WMU News

British scholarship students complete flight training

Aug. 20, 2003

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Three British citizens who overcame physical disabilities to learn to fly this summer will celebrate the completion of their training with a special wings ceremony Friday, Aug. 22. The ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. in Room 1224 of the Aviation Education Center at Western Michigan University's College of Aviation, located at W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek.

Officials from Battle Creek and WMU will take part in the ceremony, which marks the students' successful completion of a scholarship program named for a legendary World War II pilot who was a double amputee. Aviation Dean Rick Maloney will preside over the event, and remarks will be offered by WMU Provost Daniel M. Litynski, representatives of the city, Battle Creek Unlimited and other community organizations as well as College of Aviation staff members.

The three are recipients of the Royal International Air Tattoo Flying School Scholarships for the Disabled and had been at WMU since July 14. The prestigious scholarships were established in 1983 in memory of Sir Douglas Bader, famed Royal Air Force flying ace and squadron commander who downed 23 enemy planes during the war, undeterred by the loss of both legs in a crash that occurred early in his flying career. More than 170 flight students have been trained through the program, which is intended to afford those with disabilities a chance to experience a sense of freedom and release from their physical restraints.

This year's scholarship recipients are: Wendy Davis Arnfield, 41, a school employee from Lichfield, Staffordshire, England; Martin Gee, 40, a former pub manager from Beeston, Nottingham, England; and Sandip Uttam Toprani, 35, an accountant from Hemel Hempstead, Herfordshire, England. Toprani is expected to stay on for an additional two weeks of flight instruction at WMU.

The three flew almost daily at the College of Aviation facilities at W.K. Kellogg Airport. For the first two weeks of their six-week stay, they also spent half of each day attending ground school at the college.

This the second year WMU's College of Aviation has served as a host school for the scholarship program.

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


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