‘It’s an inspiration to see someone who looks like me.’

Comments and opinions from Embry-Riddle alumni and friends

From the Editor

Cover of the Fall 2018 issue of Lift Magazine.We heard from a handful of readers who expressed concern with the cover text [fall 2018]: “Eyes on the Sky: How Dennis Jones became the NTSB’s first African-American managing director.” Specifically, they took issue with the reference to race. While we acknowledge their concern — that is, in this seemingly more enlightened, color/gender blind era, race should not be a part of the conversation when it comes to great achievement — the reality of our industry tells a different story.

It’s a well-known fact that African Americans are underrepresented in the aviation and aerospace industries. According to Data USA, in 2016, 92.3 percent of aircraft pilots and flight engineers were Caucasian. It’s fair to speculate that the number of whites in aviation administration and safety mirrors this statistical imbalance. It’s people like Dennis who put aviation safety on the career map for African Americans.

In the words of student Sekou Baraka, who commented on the Alumni Facebook page, Dennis’ story gives African Americans a “dose of ‘just keep going.’”

He continued: “It’s an inspiration to see someone who LOOKs like me. … The ugly truth is that there are still ‘1sts’ that will be forthcoming.”

At Embry-Riddle, we Lift each other up. Part of that is celebrating our alumni who break through barriers — racial and otherwise. Let us know what you think: liftmag@erau.edu.

— Sara Withrow, Editor

Looking for Former Teammates

Photo of ERAU baseball team circa 1968.

I was enrolled in the airframe and powerplant program (1966-68) and then in the aviation management program (1968-72). After graduation, I basically spent my life in South Florida, owning a maintenance company for 38 years, non-aviation. Now I’m retired and living in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I was a member of the first baseball team in 1967, I’m in the back row, fourth from right. Anyone who played on the team or recognizes my name from attending classes or going to the Beachcomber, feel free to contact me at bandcbuddies@aol.com.

William “Bill” Wurster (’68, ’71, ’72)
Airframe & Powerplant Certificate
B.S. Aviation Maintenance Management
B.S. Aviation Management

Two, Not One

I just want to point out [fall 2018: 40 Years of Ascent, Page 7] that there were two security guards at the Prescott Campus in 1979. One was Andy and the other was Jim Rafters. Jim took me into his home for dinner the day I arrived in Prescott. I will never forget his generosity.

Jim Gordon (’82)
B.S. Aeronautical Science

Remembering ‘Mack’

I am an alumnus of the class of ’61 and remember “Mack” Mackaoui very well [fall 2018: Gift from the Heart, Page 25]. I recall that he curled up in pain several times in class and refused to go to the doctor. A few of us offered to take him, but he wouldn’t go. When he finally did go, it was too late, and his appendix ruptured. He passed a few days later. I just want to say that he was one of the nicest friends that I had while attending ERAU. Thank you for the memories.

Anthony Sluzenski (’61)
Aviation Maintenance Technology Certificate

The ‘City’s University’

Great issue [fall 2018]. What’s missing in the Prescott Campus story [40 Years of Ascent, Page 7] are comments from local citizens. It used to be that ERAU-Prescott was thought of as that “little school where they trained pilots.” Now, it is considered the “city’s university,” and it generates a lot of pride and support from among the locals.

Ray and Patty Newton
Prescott Campus Board of Visitors