FRED VAN ALSTINE'S BUSINESS EDUCATION TAKES OFF.
M.B.A. STUDENTS are often willing to invest heavily in their education
to advance their careers. Fred Van Alstine has raised the level
of that investment sky high.
Many Weekend M.B.A. students fly into Chicago to attend classes,
but Van Alstine may well be the only one who learned to fly and
bought a plane for the sake of his business education. Van Alstine
says his weekly journey200 miles and 50 minutes over Lake Michigan
each wayis the easiest and most direct route from his Owosso,
Michigan, home to Chicago.
"I have the option of driving, but it would take five hours each
way," he explains, "and commercial [air] travel is not very practical.
There are no direct flights from Lansing or Flint, and Im a 45-minute
drive from the airport to begin with."
So Van Alstine, who has had a lifelong interest in flying, decided
to become a pilot. Optimistically, he started lessons at the same
time that he applied to the GSB.
"I was reasonably confident that I would get in," says "and if
worst came to worst, I would at least have a new skill." The physician
who also serves as Shiawassee County medical examiner, found time
to earn his pilots license in less than three months. He spent
another 70 or 80 hours on top of that to earn an instrument rating.
He also logged 50 hours and a visit to flight safety school so
he could fly a multiengine plane.
He flies a Beech Baron, a multiengine aircraft considered the
Cadillac of small planes because of its top-of-the-line safety
features. It has onboard weather radar, storm scopes, de-icing
mechanisms, and performance capabilities that exceed many other
craft. He learned early the value of these these features: during
one of his first flights to Chicago his single engine plane iced
up so badly that he couldnt see through the windshield and had
to make an instrument approach.
Van Alstine now owns three planes, which he rents out for commercial
training and charter when he isnt flying them. "The planes pay
for themselves this way," he says. "You have to try and control
Van Alstine, who began the weekend program in the fall of 1997,
has engaged in something of a juggling act to accommodate his
studies. The father of five has cut down his work at a local hospital.
On a typical day, he spends three hours in the morning studying,
works from 1 p.m. "until I get done," then comes home and has
some family time before studying from 9 p.m. to midnight. Unlike
his commuting classmates, of course, he cant study in the plane
on the way to Chicago.
"Ive had to work hard to do okay academically," Van Alstine admits.
"Its all brand new to me, its a completely new field of study."
Van Alstine says he doesnt know precisely where he hopes his
Chicago M.B.A. will take him. "Im looking at it as an enhancement
of skills," he says. "Where it takes me from there, I dont know."
The skys the limit.