WMU News

FAA honors longtime aviation college instructor

Jan. 21, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Thomas J. McLaughlin, assistant chief flight instructor for Western Michigan University's College of Aviation, has been named the Flight Instructor of the Year for 2005 by the Grand Rapids office of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The award is recognition of his "outstanding contributions to aviation safety." McLaughlin, a WMU staff member since his 1995 graduation from the flight science program, was recognized recently when two officials from the Grand Rapids FAA district office traveled to Battle Creek to present the award. Don Finney, safety program manager and Tim Phillips, manager of the Grand Rapids flight safety district office made the presentation.

The award from the Grand Rapids district office is part of the FAA's National General Aviation Award Program. That initiative is a cooperative effort between the FAA and industry to recognize outstanding individuals in the fields of aviation maintenance, avionics and flight instruction.

McLaughlin has been flying since 1980. He served in the Navy from 1984 to 1988, serving as a crew chief and rescue swimmer on Sikorsky helicopters. He earned his bachelor's degree from WMU in 1995 and immediately joined the college staff as an instructor. He went on to earn a WMU master's degree in career and technical education in 1998. McLaughlin has been active in efforts to introduce information about careers in aviation to high school students around the state and has served as a mentor to a number of WMU flying cadets and student scholarship winners.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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