WMU News

London ceremony for first WMU British Airways cadets

Feb. 23, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Just two years after 15 cadet pilots arrived for training at Western Michigan University aboard a supersonic British Airways Concorde, University and Battle Creek city officials will travel to London to see those cadets graduate into the ranks of active commercial pilots.

Members of WMU's first class of BA cadets will officially receive their pilot wings in a ceremony Feb. 29 at BA's Heathrow Airport headquarters. The first of the group began flying as first officers aboard BA aircraft in November and all are now fully employed by the airline.

Flying to London to see the cadets take part in the formal wing presentation will be: WMU President Elson S. Floyd; Ted Dearing, mayor of Battle Creek; James Hettinger, president and chief executive officer of Battle Creek Unlimited; David Thomas, assistant to the dean for international education in WMU's College of Aviation; Martyn Dickinson, head of training for WMU's International Pilot Training Centre; Tony Jenner, deputy chief academic instructor for the IPTC; and Mark Murphy, IPTC quality manager.

The cadets arrived in Battle Creek March 7, 1998, aboard one of BA's supersonic Concorde passenger planes. The special flight marked the first Southwest Michigan landing for a Concorde. More than 40,000 people flocked to Battle Creek's W.K. Kellogg Airport for the event and ceremonies that featured Gov. John Engler, a number of state and federal legislators and a team of high-level BA executives.

Following their arrival, the cadets spent more than 13 months training in Battle Creek at the International Pilot Training Center in the College of Aviation. Half then traveled to Prestwick, Scotland, and the other half to Dundee Scotland, for 10 hours of additional flight training, a 40-hour jet orientation course and a conversion course to prepare them for the particular aircraft they will fly.

The BA cadets were the first wave of pilots to be trained under an initial two-year, $6 million contract with that airline. The contract, announced in December 1997, was the first airline contract secured by WMU's IPTC, which had been launched earlier that year. BA's sixth class of cadets arrived in Battle Creek earlier this year. To date, 46 BA cadets have completed their Battle Creek training and an equal number are currently still training at WMU's IPTC facilities.

The IPTC also has negotiated contracts with Ireland's Aer Lingus as well as the United Arab Emirates' Emirates Airlines.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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