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Aeronautics Commission Members

Aeronautics Commission Members

Aeronautics Commission Members

Benjamin R. Carter, Commissioner

Benjamin R. Carter, Farmington Hills, is the executive vice president and chief operating officer for Trinity Health. Mr. Carter is a pilot and certified flight instructor. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan. Mr. Carter is appointed for a term commencing May 26, 2021. He succeeds Roger Salo whose term expired May 27, 2020. 

Commission expires May 27, 2024. 

Benjamin R. Carter, Commissioner

Rick Fiddler, Chairman

Rick J. Fiddler, Ada, is the owner of Rick Fiddler Aviation Consulting, LLC. Mr. Fiddler recently retired from Amway Aviation where he served as the vice president of aviation. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Pre-Law from Ferris State University. Mr. Fiddler is reappointed for a term commencing May 28, 2021.

Commission expires May 27, 2024.

Rick Fiddler, Chairman
Russ Kavalhuna

Russell Kavalhuna, Vice Chairman

Russell Kavalhuna, Dearborn, is the president of Henry Ford College. Mr. Kavalhuna is a former commercial airline pilot and previously served as the executive director of the Western Michigan University College of Aviation. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Science from Western Michigan University and a Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Mr. Kavalhuna is reappointed for a term commencing May 26, 2021. 

Commission expires May 27, 2025.

Russell Kavalhuna, Vice Chairman
Kelly Burris

Kelly Burris, Commissioner

Kelly Burris, Pleasant Ridge, is the owner of Burris Law, PLLC, and a former engineer with McDonnell Douglas and Boeing. She also is a licensed pilot who has participated in the Angel Flight Program. She was appointed to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission in 2019 by Governor Gretchen Whitmer for a four-year term.

Commission expires May 27, 2023.

Kelly Burris, Commissioner
Brian Smith

Dr. Brian R. Smith, Commissioner

Dr. Brian Smith, Grand Ledge, is an adjunct professor of mathematics and calculus at Wayne County Community College District and a former senior engineering specialist with General Dynamics Land Systems. He currently serves as the president of the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum. He was appointed to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission in 2019 by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Commission expires May 27, 2023.

Dr. Brian R. Smith, Commissioner

Aeronautics Commission Members Statutory

Aeronautics Commission Members Statutory
F/Lt. Brian Bahlau, Michigan State Police, Aeronautics Commission Member

F/LT. Brian Bahlau, Commissioner

(Representing Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue)
Michigan Department of State Police

F/Lt. Bahlau is from the Special Operations Division and oversees the Field Support and Aviation Section within the department, which includes the Aviation Unit, Bomb Squad, Canine Unit and Traffic Reconstruction Unit.

F/LT. Brian Bahlau, Commissioner
Kevin Jacobs, MAC member, michigan aeronautics commission, aeronautics commission member

Kevin Jacobs, Commissioner

(Representing Keith Creagh)
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Mr. Jacobs is the Aviation Manager for the Department of Natural Resources. Kevin Jacobs is a graduate from Andrews University with a Bachelor Degree in Technology-Aviation. His license and ratings include: Airline Transport Pilot, Certified Flight Instructor (MEI, CFIAI), and Airframe and Power Plant Technician with inspector authorization.


Mr. Jacobs has 26 years of experience in aviation, including 17 years as a pilot with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He has experience as Director of Maintenance for Part 135 and is currently one of DNR's aircraft maintenance technicians. He has served as a faculty member at Andrews University teaching flight and maintenance and served as acting chair and airport manager for Andrews University's Aeronautics Department.


Kevin and his wife Sandra are Michigan natives and enjoy their four children.

Kevin Jacobs, Commissioner
Laura Mester

Laura J. Mester, C.P.A., Commissioner

(Representing Kirk Steudle)
Michigan Department of Transportation

Laura J. Mester is the Chief Administrative Officer of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), overseeing the Bureaus of Finance and Administration, and Transportation Planning, and the Offices of Aeronautics, Passenger Transportation, and Rail, as well as the operations of the International Bridge. Prior to her appointment in February 2011, Mester directed the Accounting and Financial Reporting Division of the Office of Financial Management in the State Budget Office, a position she held for 13 years.

A registered C.P.A., Mester's distinguished career in governmental accounting and financial management spans over 25 years. She earned a master's degree in business administration from Central Michigan University in 1994, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting from Michigan State University in 1987.

Mester has been honored by the National Association of State Auditors, Controllers, and Leaders for directing the early implementation of the GASB Statement 34, the most significant governmental accounting and financial reporting requirements issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board in 20 years. She is the recipient of the Government Financial Manager of the Year Award from the Greater Lansing Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants, and the William R. Snodgrass Leadership Award from the National Association of Government Accountants. Mester is the past president of the Greater Lansing Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants.

A Michigan native, she lives in DeWitt with her husband, John.

Laura J. Mester, C.P.A., Commissioner
Director of Office of Aeronautics, Mike Trout

Mike Trout, Commission Director

Director, Michigan Aeronautics Commission

Prior to his appointment as Executive Administrator for the Office of Aeronautics, Mike held elected office as the Township Supervisor in his community since 2008. In that capacity he was statutorily responsible for enforcing all ordinances, managing public works, property and improvements, preparing the annual budget, purchasing, human resources, and directing the planning, building, zoning, assessing, police, and fire departments as well as handling all contracts. He was the chairperson of the township board presiding over meetings and appointed members to various boards and committees.

Mike Trout, Commission Director