When Troy Kinnunen refers to the Western Michigan University College of Aviation as being like a big family, he knows what he is talking about. The senior from Michigan's Upper Peninsula has an immediate family numbering 17, which includes a twin sister, plus more than 60 nieces and nephews. Now that would make for an enormous dinner table for the Thanksgiving celebration. Also part of the make-up of Kinnunen, an aviation flight science major, is that he can claim membership in another big family -- the U. S. Marine Corps -- because once a Marine, always a Marine.
A senior double-majoring in aviation flight science and aviation management/operations, Mardoian is not the first Bronco aviator who makes music up in the sky and on the performance field as well. "I did not want to be just someone twiddling their thumbs throughout my college years," he says. "I wanted to make a difference. I had been part of a marching band since my years in junior high. I didn't want to stop doing what I loved. So, I didn't at Western. As a drill instructor, I'm part of the leadership team for the trumpet section in the Bronco Marching Band."
A person's first flight can be an eye-opening, perspective-shifting and career-focusing experience. It was for WMU College of Aviation junior Emma Anderson, and hers was even more of a milestone. She took off and landed on . . . water. Raised in Sparta, Mich., something of a bedroom community for Grand Rapids to the south, Anderson was 16 at the time and on her way to becoming a 2018 graduate of Sparta High School
Dominic Nicolai has rubbed elbows -- and wings -- with some of the giants of the WMU College of Aviation in his 28 years as an instructor. A flight instructor since his 1993 graduation from the WMU program, he has these achievements on his resume -- named FAA Flight Instructor of the Year for the Grand Rapids area in 1996 and garnering master-instructor status in 2008 from the National Association of Flight Instructors.
As a sailor, Zach Orfin mastered his way through and on top of the water. As a College of Aviation student, he's soared amidst the clouds far above the solid ground. There appears to be a third medium in his future -- space, the Final Frontier, in the words of Capt. James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.
If anybody can be defined as a legacy enrollee in the WMU aviation program, it's Michael Coldagelli. His grandfather, Paul Harding, is a member of the Western class of 1954. After his military service, Harding ended up as the executive vice president of marketing for -- where else -- Western Airlines, which, with its hub in Salt Lake City, functioned from 1925 to 1987 before it merged with Delta Air Lines. Originally from New Berlin, Wis, Coldagelli is a double major in aviation flight science and aviation management and operations.