Western's College of Aviation donates vintage aircraft to Hooligans Flight Team

Contact: Erin Flynn

BATTLE CREEK, Mich.—The Hooligans Flight Team's high-flying tributes to military veterans bring joy and reverence to flight shows and ceremonies across the country. Western Michigan University is helping the organization bolster its reserves and continue its mission with the donation of parts from two vintage military aircraft.

"We value our veterans—in fact, the College of Aviation has the most veterans of any college—and as an institution of higher education, we value opportunities to educate the public as well," says Dr. Raymond Thompson, interim dean of the College of Aviation. "This donation allows us to further that effort while also supporting a great cause."

"On behalf of our entire Hooligans team, we want to thank Western Michigan University, and especially the (College) of Aviation, for this generous donation of T-34 parts, and more importantly for your unwavering support of our community, our veterans and the military," adds Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Frank Walker, a veteran advocate and member of the Hooligans.

"Today I don't only represent the Hooligans Flight Team. I represent the many veterans and their families who attend the events where we perform in their honor; I represent the senior veterans who can't make it to these events, so we go to them; and I represent the family members of our fallen heroes who witness flyovers in honor of their loved ones."

Two small, yellow military aircraft fly next to each other.

The Hooligans fly their vintage military aircraft in air shows and ceremonies throughout the year. (Photo courtesy: Chuck Stauffer)

Western donated two single engine, T-34 military training aircraft. The University acquired the deconstructed 1950s era planes in the early 2000s, and the parts have been in storage on campus.

"It's a good opportunity to take a piece of history that's been closed off in a hangar and give it the opportunity to come back and let people see it and enjoy it," Thompson says.

The Hooligans will now transfer the parts to their own facility to begin inventorying and eventually put to use on their fleet.

"Just the smallest little part will be a lifesaver," says Chuck Stauffer, a pilot for the Hooligans. He points out parts like this are extremely rare; there are only a few places in the entire country where they are available.

"The parts will be invaluable to keep us flying," adds fellow pilot Tom Hibiske.

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