Delta, aviation school team to train future pilots

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Delta Air Lines Foundation and West Michigan Aviation Academy recently celebrated the Foundation’s $150,000 grant to the school for the purchase of a Cessna 172 to train future pilots. 

Delta Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Gil West, addressing ceremony attendees including students, elected officials, business leaders, Delta employees and Foundation board members, said, “The Delta Air Lines Foundation is pleased to make this grant to WMAA and it is our hope that the students will follow their passion of aviation and study hard so that one day they will be Delta’s future employees and customers.” 

Aviation school team Group PhotoAdded Andrea Newman, Senior Vice President - Government Affairs: “Michigan is very important to Delta, and we are proud of our history of partnership and economic development in the state. Delta has provided more than 10,000 jobs in Michigan. As we continue to support this great state, we are thankful to build relationships with organizations like WMAA, who are as passionate about the aviation industry as we are.”

West Michigan Aviation Academy Founder and Board President Dick DeVos, WMAA CEO Patrick Cwayna and WMAA student Jaxyn Ryks accepted the grant on behalf of the school at the event Oct. 1.

After the ceremony, more than 50 students participated in a panel discussion with West; Newman; John Fechushak, Vice President-Detroit Airport Operations; and Delta Captains John O’Neil and Jim Breaugh. The Delta leaders stressed the importance of hard work, perseverance and good grades.

Delta's support of West Michigan Aviation Academy aligns with the airline’s goal of developing future leaders and investing in the community, and the Foundation’s pillar of supporting education.

West Michigan Aviation Academy is a tuition-free public charter high school founded by Dick DeVos that provides a rigorous educational program with an aviation focus, preparing students for a career in the aviation field. The school opened in 2010 and is located on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. WMAA employs 33 teachers who are educating more than 500 students in grades 9 through 12. 

- Elizabeth Caminiti

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