Tom Thinnes

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Corporate Eagle Awards Scholarship to Support Western Michigan University Aviation Students

Posted by Tom Thinnes on Wed, May 17, 2017 @ 12:08 PM

The Corporate Eagle Aviation Excellence Scholarship awards $3,000 to an enrolled College of Aviation student

2017 Corporate Eagle Scholarship - Moriarty, Joel-940385-edited.jpgWATERFORD, Mich., May 8, 2017–– Corporate Eagle, a provider of premium, membership-based fractional and managed business aviation programs based at Oakland County International airport, announced today that it has awarded its first College of Aviation scholarship to a Western Michigan University (WMU) student. Corporate Eagle President and CEO Rick Nini made the announcement.

This is the first year Corporate Eagle has offered the $3,000 Corporate Eagle Aviation Excellence Scholarship, providing tuition assistance to one enrolled College of Aviation student who is seeking his/her Multi-Engine Flight Instructor rating.

“Western Michigan University’s aviation program is one of the largest and most respected programs in the nation, and we are fortunate to have this world-class professional aviation program in our backyard where we recruit many of our pilots from,” said Nini. “As part of Corporate Eagle’s value in continued education, we have connected with local grade school classes to introduce the science of aviation through tours and hands-on learning, provided summer internships for high school students, and are excited to now partner with WMU to provide this scholarship each year to deserving students enrolled in the College of Aviation.”

To be eligible, applicants had to have a minimum grade point average of 3.0, write an essay as part of the application process discussing his/her interest in pursuing a career in corporate aviation, provide a letter of recommendation from Chief Flight Instructor and a professional resume.

Selected internally by the WMU College of Aviation scholarship selection committee, the 2017 recipient of the Corporate Eagle Aviation Excellence Scholarship is

WMU senior Joel Moriarty, who has completed 830 flight hours. Moriarty is passionate about becoming a corporate aviation pilot to use it as a platform to enrich the lives of everyone he encounters. He is a Canton, Michigan resident who attended Detroit Catholic Central High School.

About Corporate Eagle

Founded in 1982, Corporate Eagle is southeast Michigan's largest and longest serving provider of premium, membership-based fractional and managed business aviation programs. Based at Oakland County International Airport, Corporate Eagle's team of 57 full-time, experienced, committed and passionate professionals are dedicated to delivering exemplary experiences for the region's industry leading corporations and business leaders. With a mission specific fleet of 15 meticulously maintained aircraft, best in class industry safety standards and certifications and unmatched attention to every detail, without compromise, Corporate Eagle offers its southeast Michigan members a premier, seamless and flexible solution to their private aviation needs. For more information visit

Topics: Scholarships, Flight Instructor, Flight training

Organization is Key

Posted by Tom Thinnes on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 @ 01:20 PM

Chris Desmond
Aviation Flight Science 

A Bachelors Degree in Aviation is a degree like no other, for many reasons beyond the obvious fact that we can attain the coolest jobs out there, by working in aviation. However like many things, being a pilot, aircraft mechanic, or airline dispatcher requires a lot of skill sets that many people don’t have a firm grasp on. Strong organizational skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work under pressure are just a few of the many skill sets possessed by aviation professionals across the world. However, this article is only going to focus on the first one, organization, a skill that is paramount to high school seniors, and college freshman getting used to their first semester totally on their own.

At this point in the year, many high school seniors are going through the process of applying for colleges, visiting colleges, and staying up late on Friday nights studying, just to get up early Saturday morning to take an ACT or SAT. For most seniors, this is the best year of high school. However, they can almost always look back after graduation and notice a few things that they could have done better, and organizing their time better usually falls towards the top of that list. Organization comes in many forms, whether it be planning out your schedule to have time for studying or work, or making sure that all of your class work and notes are not scattered all over your room, being organized will help you immensely in the long run. Your teachers will drill that concept into your mind your entire year, and yes it will get repetitive, but yes it is also some of the best advice you will receive from your four years in high school. This is especially true once you hit your first year getting acclimated for college.

As a freshman you are essentially thrown into a whole new environment, where, if you are from home or out of state you may not know nobody and are expected to juggle everything at once while trying to stay calm. Which is essentially not possible, between long classes, labs, the homework associated with those classes, and the exams. Throw on top of that, any job you may have, flight training if you are a flight science major, which also involves studying for the written tests, and finally trying to some how manage to have a social life. The saying is true, “Your options are good grades, a social life, and sleep, choose two.” Which leads me to the next topic.

Why is it important to be organized in the cockpit? Well that actually has an easier answer than one may think, being the pilot carries a lot of responsibility to ensure the safety of the crew and passengers, as well as those on the ground. Organization in the cockpit depends on many things, including phase of flight, crew, and workload. When in the situation of a two-person crew, organization would include designating each person’s responsibilities prior to any workload being established, and once there is a workload making sure that you have a positive exchange of duties. Single pilot operations differ than a crew type scenario, the main reason, being that as the single pilot all the responsibilities of a crew. Staying organized is imperative to making a safe flight, especially when it comes to the critical phases of flight it is important to make sure that there isn’t any unnecessary distractions that could be prevented.

All in all, organization is key, no matter what you are doing, whether it be flying or enjoying the rest of your time, the more organized you are the less stressed you will be. Here at Western, especially in the flight department you are taught that safety is key, and organization is safety.




Topics: Aviation, aviation training, flying, Western Michigan University, freshman

"Charlie Victor Romeo" - A Must See for Every Aviation Professional

Posted by Tom Thinnes on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 @ 11:10 AM

Education is an art.  When done correctly, the educator is often able to synthesize understanding of a complex concept like a chef creates a confectionary delicacy.  However, very often it is disguised in assessments, pencil and paper tests, and data.  When this happens, the ability to approach a complex subject is lost.  The learner is reduced to a passive participant, digesting the material using only one sensory input. 

CVR Poster Nowhere else is this more evident than in the reports of airline emergencies.  More often than not, the transcripts of these events are recorded and documented.  The text of the crew, their actions, the response of the aircraft, all of these written in black and white to be analyzed and interpreted for years.  While the data is important, there is something lost: the voices of the individuals.  Much like certain educational subjects, these aviation events are anything but simple.  Instead, they are incredibly complex requiring a unique approach to their teaching.  Most of the times, these events are read.  However, through the readings, we lose the nuances and interactions between the crew; we fail to see the emotions, the conflict, grief, anger and despair.  The film Charlie Victor Romeo brings these incidents to life, allowing the viewer an intimate look into the situations that lead to these events; providing an incredible and unique educational opportunity.  

Using the art of theater, Charlie Victor Romeo projects the human element to these often tragic emergencies.  As a result, the film is a must see for everyone involved in aviation.  At Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation, students learn about many of the incidents portrayed in the film.  The students read and discuss the emergencies: what occurred, how the crew handled the situation, what they did well, what they could do better.  What the text lacks, Charlie Victor Romeo brings to life.  

As is true of any theatrical representation, the actors are able to showcase the hidden parts of the transcripts.  The dialogue of the actors is derived entirely from the “black box” transcripts of each of the six aviation emergencies highlighted in the movie.  However, missing from the transcripts is the perspiration, angst, and frustration the actors demonstrate through each of the events.  The ability to watch a person go through the stress of these situations adds another dimension to any collegiate or professional discussion.  

The use of this film as part of any academic discussion regarding these aviation emergencies should be highly considered.  Using the film in conjunction with the actual transcripts allows the educator to blend the art with the science.  Melding the faceless black and white text with the gamut of emotions projected by the actor, a student begins to see the events in a different light.  They are able to witness the dedication of the crew, their ability to fight through the situation, and sometimes their inability to perceive the situation unfolding in front of them.  While the transcripts lack the intensity of a John Grisham novel, the actors are able to infer the gut-wrenching emotion felt by the various crew members represented.  Ultimately, what the movie brings to light is the human element.  

To highlight the benefit of using the film Charlie Victor Romeo in order to educate future aviation professionals about past aviation incidents, all one must do is think about Shakespeare.  Many a college freshmen has sat through a class on Shakespeare: reading and discussing the Bard of Avon’s work.  Students would read, decipher and write about the various sonnets and plays, but they rarely connected to them since the text always lacked a certain “pizazz.”  The wonder of Shakespeare required a student to sit in an auditorium and watch “Macbeth” come to life.  The interpretation and presentation of the actors filled in the missing components.  All of which led to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the original tale.  The production added nothing to Shakespeare’s words; however, the work of the actors provided that “little bit” which helped to generate a more a complete understanding of the source material.  The actors in Charlie Victor Romeo provide the same opportunity for those wishing to understand the nuances in the explored aviation emergencies.  

The ability to immerse a student into a subject is paramount to learning.  Many times, educators have found that to educate, one must also entertain.  Marshall McLuhan summed it up when he stated, “It’s misleading to suppose there’s any basic difference between education and entertainment.”  By combining the educational value of analyzing these aviation emergencies with the entertainment medium presented through the art of film, students are able to submerse themselves fully in the examination of these events.  Hopefully, through careful examination, the experiences of the past will help to prevent similar events in the future.    

Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation was proud to be the fourth professional screening of the film Charlie Victor Romeo.  Students, faculty, staff and the public were invited to the screenings that took place on April 9 and 10, 2014, at the Alamo Drafthouse in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Topics: Aviation, Flight Schools, aviation training, pilot training

Grounded in Aviation - Changing Majors by Changing Direction

Posted by Tom Thinnes on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 @ 02:46 PM

Growing up in Milwaukee, Wis, aviation mecca was only an hour and a half away. During my sophomore year of high school, I took my first “introductory flight” with EAA Young Eagles. I immediately knew I had been bitten by the aviation ‘bug.’ Since that day, I totally focused on the notion of being a commercial pilot. In my eyes, there wasn’t anything like it: having the luxury of always flying, strutting with those stripes on my shoulders, enjoying the four day layovers in exotic places and heading home to enjoy time off for another week before starting a trip again. As I thought about this day in and day out, I said to myself, “This really isn’t a job!”Gabe Langley by Airplane

Throughout high school, I began to set my eyes on Western Michigan University and their nationally recognized aviation program. I decided to enroll at WMU and double major in aviation flight science and aviation management and operations. Soon after I arrived, I began flying in the state of art Cirrus SR-20. The initial feeling of flying such a beautiful piece of equipment was truly amazing and very satisfying. I kept progressing through my training, but as I moved forward, I felt unfilled. Yes, I love planes and airports, but did I enjoy constantly flying and being at the controls?

Over the course of my first semester, my heart wasn’t fully devoted to being part of a professional pilot environment.  Many times I denied this feeling and ignored the fact telling myself, “This can’t be. I want to be an airline pilot! I’ll just pass the training and that’ll be it. It will all be different once I’m done with the training.” I felt like I was just going through the motions with my training, not truly investing myself. Although it was hard to think about and process, I was soon second guessing my career choice and questioning if I really wanted to pursue being a professional pilot. “Do I really want to do this?”

By the end of the semester, I came to a conclusion: drop flight training and the aviation flight science degree. Although I was no longer flying, aviation was still in my blood, and it needed to be addressed. I have always been interested in the management side of things, whether at an airport or an airline. Being part of a sales or management team of an airline/airport, as well as possibly being involved in the administrative operations at an airport, really excited me. Although I chose not to continue the path into a flight career, I knew one thing – be true to yourself and put your best foot forward.

With flying (or anything), you don’t know the reality of something until you try it out. Yes, I wanted to be an airline pilot. I saw the glamorous life of the career, but after sampling a taste and doing some more research, I realized that it was not my ‘cup of tea.’ As I thought about airport management and administration, and the many opportunities and challenges those careers brought, I soon realized it wouldn’t be a huge career change after all. Aviation business and management jobs typically offer extensive travel benefits, while many also enjoy the same benefits of an airline pilot. The only difference being, I won’t be controlling the aircraft in the cockpit.

Writing this today, I am focusing my studies towards the aviation management and operations major, while adding on a communication broadcasting minor. College is all about discovering and learning who you are. Part of that is also about making decisions. As a college student, you make short term and long term decisions every day. Part of the learning process is to explore these decisions and accept the changes they often bring.

Whether you grow up wanting to be a doctor, lawyer, or professional pilot, it is important to realize that things change. Yes, it will initially be hard to stray away from something you have focused on for a long time, but realize things happen for a reason. Be confident in your growth and decisions, don’t hesitate putting your all into what you want to do. I still love aviation and can never get enough. Losing myself for days in the miraculous events at EAA (and other airshows), spotting my favorite planes at many airports and everything in between, brings nothing but pure joy to my face.

Gabriel S. Langley
Western Michigan University
College of Aviation
Aviation Management and Operations 

Topics: Aviation, aviation management, aviation schools, aviation training

PSA Airlines Announces Regional Airline Growth

Posted by Tom Thinnes on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 @ 11:50 AM


DAYTON, OhioFollowing the closure of the merger between US Airways and American Airlines into American Airlines Group Inc., the new American Airlines today announced a Large Regional Jet order, 30 of which will be flown by Dayton-based PSA Airlines beginning next summer.  PSA is a  wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group which is now the largest airline in the world.  Today’s announcement will allow PSA, whose headquarters, training and primary maintenance facility is located at the Dayton Airport, an  opportunity to continue to expand their employee base with the industry’s best professionals.
To prepare for the delivery of these aircraft, PSA will immediately begin hiring 400 additional pilots, 400 flight attendants, 100 maintenance-related personnel, and various other support positions to manage the rapid growth of the airline, resulting in an expansion from 1100 employees to upwards of 2000.
PSA’s growth announcement comes as a part of American Airlines Group Inc. announcement today that American Airlines Inc.:
 “…has firm orders for 30 Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen aircraft, with options for up to 40 more... and the firm order of CRJ900 NextGen aircraft will be operated on behalf of American by PSA Airlines, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of US Airways. American expects to begin taking delivery of the CRJ900s in the second quarter of 2014.
 'We are looking forward to welcoming these new planes into the fleet next year,' continued Hashimoto.  “PSA’s strong economics make them a perfect fit for the new aircraft.'”
For more information on the new American’s fleet plans, visit
“We are very excited about this growth opportunity which will bring new employment to the Dayton area which has supported us for the past twenty-five years,” said PSA President Keith D. Houk. 

With flight crew bases in Charlotte, Knoxville, and Dayton, along with maintenance in Charlotte, Dayton, and Akron, PSA’s growth will affect all of these areas as well as additional locations to be determined at a later date.
 See American Airlines Group Inc.’s Jet Purchase announcement in its entirety here.

Topics: Aviation, Aviation Opportunities, jobs, Relevant Industry News

Learning to Fly in a Cirrus - An Aviation Student's Perspective

Posted by Tom Thinnes on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 @ 03:09 AM

The first time I stepped into the cockpit of the Cirrus SR 20, I was a bit intimidated.  Where I was accustomed to seeing the familiar six-pack instrument cluster, two flat-paneled screens occupied the space.  The area where my radio knobs should have been was now a full keyboard.  It felt as though I hopped into the cockpit of a spaceship, not an aircraft.  The past decade has been a remarkable time for aviation with the implementation of new aircraft technologies maximizing performance and utility, as well as ease of operation.

When people think of an aircraft cockpit, they envision two things.  The first is that of a typical airliner – one that you may have briefly seen while walking in or out of a commercial flight.  This version has what seems like thousands of switches, dials, gauges, levers, buttons, knobs, handles, needles, etc.  The vision leaves you amazed at the skill required to operate all of that machinery but wondering how pilots know what they are doing.  The other vision is usually the instrumentation of an old-style aircraft; with fewer instruments than a car, a stick, and a throttle.  

Fleet Guide

These two cockpits have dominated the aircraft environment since the beginning of aviation, but this has changed with the advent of technologically advanced aircraft.  Designers and engineers have started to place greater importance on the efficiency, ergonomics, and safety of each flight, beginning with the aircraft.  The Cirrus SR20 is a prime example of the effective implementation of these concepts, and showcases the superb performance generated from these new technologies. 

One of the most remarkable features of the Cirrus SR20 is the use of composite materials.  Until recently, aircraft structures were made two ways.  The first method involved constructing a metal or wood frame, then stretching glue-covered fabric over the body.  The second method involved creating an Cirrus Aircraftaluminum airframe by bending and twisting metal into the shape of the plane.  However, in the past decade, engineers discovered a better method.  By combining different materials of various strengths, they are able to make a new substance, called composites, which are much stronger and lighter than conventional materials.  These composite materials are advantageous to aircraft designers because they have a high strength to weight ratio, and are much easier to form into aerodynamically efficient shapes.  The benefit: aircraft are now lighter, faster, and overall more efficient.  The Cirrus SR20, similar to many recreational boats, is comprised primarily of fiberglass, and provides students a training aircraft with outstanding performance.

 Another cutting edge technology utilized in the Cirrus SR20 is an advanced avionics suite, the Avidyne Integra Release 9.  Instead of the typical analog instrument panel found in most small aircraft, the Cirrus SR2Avidyne R90 employs a glass panel, which in simpler terms is a computer monitor which displays all flight information.  The gauges have been replaced by two screens, the primary flight display, and the multi-function display.  These screens depict things like flight, navigation, systems information, traffic and terrain alerts using the Skywatch Collision Avoidance System, airport information, and flight plans.  In addition, the glass panel is also linked to a Flight Management System, similar to the system used by most airlines.  This system allows pilots to quickly input information for the flight using a full QWERTY keyboard.  Western Michigan University is one of the two collegiate aviation programs in the nation to offer this tool.  The combination of these new technologies increases pilot situational awareness and creates a user-friendly environment for the crew.

Personally, I was a bit skeptical of training in the Cirrus SR20 coming into Western Michigan University as a flight student. As most of my friends would agree, I generally am not the biggest fan of new technology.  I still have a flip-phone, my car has manual everything, I still use an atlas, and the idea of an aircraft being smarter than me was a bit daunting.  However, after several flights, I realized why everyone is raving about these new, advanced aircraft tools.  I was quite impressed at how easy the “computer” was to operate, and just how much more confident and aware I was during my training.  Also, since the beginning of my training, I have seen the inside of several airliner and corporate cockpits; each time I was surprised at how similar they are to the Avidyne R9 and Cirrus SR20.  This dual package of the Cirrus SR20 with the R9 provides students an opportunity to train on equipment that is very similar to the type used by most of the companies they will be working for in the future.

Andrew Marvin
Aviation Flight Science
Western Michigan University
College of Aviation

Topics: Avidyne R9, Aviation, Cirrus Aircraft, aviation training

Now is the Time! Become a Professional Pilot

Posted by Tom Thinnes on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 @ 03:02 PM

WMU College of Aviation students learning Crew Resource Management (CRM) in the CRJ200At Western Michigan University, we have a saying, “It’s a great day to be a Bronco.”  Similarly, at WMU’s College of Aviation, we add on by saying, “It’s a great time to be a Bronco in aviation!”

As one of the top flight schools in the nation, Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation has been leading the charge in training the aviators of tomorrow, today.  Our bachelors degree in flight science is consistently recognized as one of the premiere programs in the country.  Flying some of the most sophisticated aircraft, with the most advanced avionics package available in general aviation, our student pilots gain the experience and transferable skills that make them very sought after in the aviation job market.

As recently demonstrated in the Wall Street Journal, an aviation career as a pilot is in high demand.  Conservative reports by independent agencies indicate a demand of 5,000 pilots a year for the next 10 to 20 years in the United States alone.  With the aging population of current professional pilots coupled with the decrease in the number of students pursuing this career path, the supply of aviation jobs will be tremendous.  As stated in the WSJ, “More than half of U.S. airline pilots are over 50” and “FAA data show annual private and commercial pilot certificates – both required to become an airline pilot – are down 41% and 30%, respectively, in the past decade.”  Putting two and two together, “It is a great time to be a Bronco in aviation!”

Students in Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation flight science program are pursuing their dream to become a pilot.  The flight training portion of the program takes the students through the private pilot course, instrument, and commercial certification.  With the flight school a part of Western Michigan University, students also benefit from a solid, general education.  According to U.S. News and World Report, WMU continues to be recognized as one of the top 100 public universities in the country.

Setting the program apart is WMU’s commitment to advancing the field of aviation education by training in the most advanced aircraft and using the most sophisticated avionics package available in general aviation.  Students within the program do the majority of their training using the Cirrus SR20.  With a fleet of 26, all of them are equipped with the Avidyne R9, a fully functioning Flight Management System (FMS), and the DFC100, Avidyne’s attitude-based digital autopilot.  Both of these platforms represent the next generation of aviation technology.   The benefits to our students are numerous: the most significant, giving them a competitive advantage by allowing them to train on equipment that will teach them relevant and transferable skills.

The perfect storm of aviation is upon us.  Multiple sources beyond the Wall Street Journal article continue to express the looming pilot shortage.  Independent reviews by Airbus and Boeing support and reinforce the need for pilots.  As one of the best flight schools in the country, Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation is prepared and ready to help you “Learn to Live Your Dream!”


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Topics: Aviation, Flight Schools, aviation schools, aviation training, pilot, pilot school, pilot training, Relevant Industry News

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