West Michigan aviation power Duncan among honorees at WMU event

Contact: Cheryl Roland
Photo of Robert Duncan


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The longtime leader of Duncan Aviation will travel to Kalamazoo this week to accept an award honoring his company's long support of aviation education and its partnerships with Western Michigan University's College of Aviation.

Robert Duncan, chairman emeritus of the world's largest family-owned maintenance, repair and overhaul company, will attend the 2017 WMU College of Aviation Recognition Dinner at 5:30 p.m.  Friday, Nov. 3, at the Bernhard Center on WMU's main campus in Kalamazoo. He'll be there along with other Duncan executives to accept his company's induction into college's Hall of Honor.

Duncan will travel from Lincoln, Nebraska, Duncan Aviation's corporate home, to accept the award that honors the company's partnership with WMU to promote careers in aviation. Duncan established an aviation maintenance internship in 2008, and in 2014, created a maintenance scholarship for students of the WMU college. The company also, over the years, has assisted the college by offering operational support for WMU at the Battle Creek W.K. Kellogg Airport location that WMU's aviation college and Duncan share with other corporate entities and the Air National Guard. In recent years, Duncan also has partnered with the WMU Aviation Summer Camp to offer an immersive and engaging tour and program.


Robert Duncan was named company president at the age of 26—just nine years after his father founded the company in 1956. In 2007, he turned over day-to-day management of the company to his son, D. Todd Duncan. Today, Duncan Aviation offers full-service locations in Battle Creek, Lincoln and Provo, Utah. It also offers services at more than 20 facilities in locations around the nation, including Kalamazoo.

Robert Duncan's awards include the Aircraft Electronics Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, Living Legends of Aviation Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award in 2010, the Master Pilot Award in 2009, and the National Business Aviation Association's John P. "Jack" Doswell Award in 2002. He has been named to the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame and the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame.

Other 2017 honorees

Duncan Aviation joins two other 2017 Hall of Honor inductees being honored this year:

  • Herbert Ellinger, WMU professor emeritus of transportation technology, will be inducted posthumously. After coming to WMU in 1942 as a flight instructor, he served the University for more than 41 years.
  • Pat Benton, associate professor of aviation, invested more than 40 years of his career with the College of Aviation before his retirement earlier this year. He is a 1980 alumnus of the college and was instrumental in building the aviation maintenance program.

Also being honored at this year's event is Tony Dennis, who was recruited by the late WMU President Elson Floyd to increase the number of women and minorities going into aviation careers. Dennis, who currently is director of recruitment and retention for the WMU Graduate College, will receive the College of Aviation's Excellence in Diversity Award at the Nov. 3 event.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.