On this day 150 years ago, Orville Wright of the famous flying Wright brothers was born. Today, we celebrate National Aviation Day—a holiday established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt— honoring and celebrating all those who have contributed to and innovated flight technology to give us modern aviation.
Ever since the first flight on December 17, 1903, science and technology have been ever-evolving and revolutionizing to create one of the most important industries in the world. Aviation has exploded into the skies, with critical importance to logistics, the military, global business, and tourism. Our region boasts some of the best of the best aviation organizations.
Check out a few high-flyers who are shaking up the skies in Southwest Michigan:
- The Western Michigan University College of Aviation is one of the largest aviation programs in the nation, with just over 1,100 undergraduate students. For over 80 years, the College of Aviation has provided elite aviation education to students.
- Another star in the sky is Duncan Aviation in Battle Creek, which is the largest family-owned maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility in the world, providing complete acquisition, sales, and nose-to-tail support services for business aircraft.
- Adding to the lineup is the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum, a highly charged, multi-sensory atmosphere that is like no other place on Earth. The Air Zoo features more than 100 rare and historic air and space artifacts, amusement-park style rides, flight simulators, and many other educational opportunities.
- RAI Jets in Kalamazoo is flying high with more than 30 years of experience dedicated to aircraft management and maintenance as well as private jet charters for business and personal travel.
- The Kalamazoo Battle Creek International Airport (AZO) flies hundreds of passengers each day (pre-COVID) to major hubs with worldwide connections. The airport is self-sufficient and has had a significant economic impact on Southwest Michigan since its inception in 1925.
- Parker Hydraulics Solutions Division in Kalamazoo designs and manufactures hydraulic systems which improve the operation of many flight-critical components for global aerospace companies.
- Experienced craftsman at the WACO Aircraft Corporation in Battle Creek produces biplanes based on original techniques from the 1920s and 1930s that feature modern technology for improved flying characteristics and safety.