Sept. 4, 2011 | WMU News
Sept. 11, 2001, was scheduled to be a day of celebration in the skies over WMU's College of Aviation. By day's end the sky was empty and the college's planes sat on the ground in Battle Creek and at small airfields across the state.
By 10:40 a.m., all WMU aircraft were accounted for and were on the ground—some at airports across the state as student fliers curtailed cross-country flights and responded to the FAA closing by landing at the nearest airports.
The last three aircraft to report landed at Michigan airports in Marshall, Mount Pleasant and Lakeview in Montcalm County. Vehicles were dispatched to retrieve the pilots and return them to the WMU campus.
Meanwhile, a flight carrying officials from Mesaba Airlines' Minneapolis headquarters to WMU was among the thousands of flights canceled that morning. The Mesaba team was headed to WMU's Kellogg Airport facility for a 2 p.m. celebration and announcement of a new partnership between WMU and the regional passenger carrier. The planned event dissolved and was not rescheduled until the following April.
For commercial airlines, the flight ban was lifted within days. A continuing ban on VFR—Visual Flight Rules—flights kept WMU and flight schools around the nation shut down for two weeks. The ban was finally lifted and students retuned to normal flight operations on Sept. 24.