The Hooligans Flight Team Receive Vintage Planes From WMU
The Hooligans Flight Team will be flying high with the aid of two vintage aircraft being donated by Western Michigan University College of Aviation. WMU has been storing the deconstructed aircraft on its campus in Battle Creek for several years. The Hooligans will be able to put the parts to use on their T-34 fleet. Dr. Raymond Thompson, interim dean of the College of Aviation says, "It's a good opportunity to take a piece of history that's been closed off in a hangar and give it the opportunity to come back and let people see it and enjoy it."
The Hooligans are a familiar sight over the skies of the Cereal City. They were on hand to welcome The Wall That Heals when it rolled into Battle Creek, on July 12th of 2022, and most recently, they performed a flyover on Veterans Day over Fort Custer National Cemetary. John Workman and Russ McDonald founded the group in the late 1990s with the main goal to honor veterans, especially WWII vets. Originally the name was “Grey Haired Hooligans”, but that all changed when a female member jokingly refused to be associated with a grey-haired anything. The team’s motto became, “If it makes them smile, it’s worthwhile.”
The aircraft featured in the flyovers include the L-17 NAVION and T-34 Mentor. The L-17's served as Forward Air Control from 1950 to 1953, guiding fighters and bombers to their targets behind enemy lines. The T-34 served as trainers for generations of aviators in the years following WWII. Reflecting on the donation of the T-34 aircraft parts from WMU, Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Frank Walker, a veteran advocate and member of the Hooligans said,
"This is another way of showing the community how Western Michigan University supports our military and our veterans. They were very generous in considering the Hooligans family."