KALAMAZOO—Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, recently captured the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's Region III title to qualify for the national championship in May.
The 13-member WMU team captured the ground events title and came in second in flight events to win the overall competition with 202 points at the Oct. 14-18 event held at WMU's College of Aviation in Battle Creek, Mich. Ohio State University came in second with 179 points, and Ohio University came in in third with 93. Other college teams competing included those from Kent State University and University of Cincinnati.
NIFA regional competitions pit schools against each other in five ground events and four flying events. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 10 in each of the events.
According to Sky Bronco Head Coach Ryan Seiler, increased involvement of alumni this year helped the team prepare for the regional competition.
"We have had numerous alumni come back and help the team over the past month and a half in preparation for regionals, and I anticipate even more support as we prepare for nationals," he said. "Other than the limited flying due to the weather, the overall event was very successful and represented WMU very proudly."
The national competition will be hosted by Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, May 12-17.
Sky Bronco team members
- Patrick Allen of Willowbrook, Ill., is a 2013 graduate of Hinsdale (Ill.) Central High School and is studying aviation flight science and flight administration at WMU. Allen placed third in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.
- Joseph Batchelder of Grand Haven, Mich., is a 2009 alumnus of Western Michigan Christian High School in Norton Shores, Mich., and is studying aviation flight science at WMU. Batchelder placed first in computer accuracy, ground trainer and aircraft preflight inspection; tied for fourth in short-field approach and landing; placed sixth in power-off landing and 10th in simulated comprehensive aircraft recognition. He came in second for the top pilot award and was second in top-scoring male and overall top-scoring contestant standings.
- Elizabeth Bates of Plymouth, Mass., is a 2012 graduate of Plymouth South High School and is studying aviation flight science at WMU. Bates was part of a two-person team that placed second in navigation. She also placed first in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation, third in ground trainer and aircraft preflight inspection, and 10th in power-off landing. She was the top scoring female contestant and eighth overall in the top-scoring contestant ranking.
- Alex Bych of Somers, Conn., graduated from Somers High School in 2011 and is studying aviation flight science. Bych placed fourth in aircraft recognition, eighth in short-field approach and landing and ninth in power-off landing. He finished 10th in the top-scoring male contestant standings.
- Bethany D'Alessandro of Orland Park, Ill., is a 2013 alumna of Carl Sandburg High School and is studying aviation flight science.
- Devvyn Fader of Essexville, Mich., is a 2013 graduate of Garber High School and is studying aviation flight science. Fader placed ninth in aircraft recognition.
- Nicholas Funkhouser of Jackson, Mich., graduated from Jackson High School in 2013 and is an aviation flight science student.
- Andrew Koch of Chelsea, Mich., is a 2011 graduate of Chelsea High School and is studying aviation flight science. Koch placed second in ground trainer, fifth in power-off landing and in aircraft recognition, and 10th in short-field approach and landing. He also was eighth in the top pilot standings and sixth in both top-scoring male contestant and top-scoring contestant.
- Takuya Kutsuzawa of Honjo-Shi, Japan, graduated from Toin Gakuen High School in Yokohama, Japan, in 2009 and is studying aviation flight science. Kutsuzawa placed seventh in computer accuracy.
- Conner Murdock of Shelby Township, Mich., graduated from Romeo (Mich.) High School in 2013 and is an aviation flight science student. Murdock placed seventh in aircraft recognition. He also was named outstanding team member for the Sky Broncos.
- Luke Ostrom of Orland Park, Ill., graduated from Carl Sandburg High School in 2013 and is studying aviation flight science. Ostrom placed ninth in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.
- Chris Reichert of Climax, Mich., graduated from Climax-Scotts High School in 2013 and is an aviation flight science student. Reichert was part of a two-person team that placed second in navigation. Individually, he placed second in computer accuracy and aircraft preflight inspection, and sixth in short-field approach and landing. He ranked third in top pilot standings and third in both the top-scoring male contestant and overall top-scoring contestant standings.
- Randall Walliser of San Mateo, Calif., is a 2011 graduate of Hillsdale High School and is studying aviation flight science. Walliser placed third in aircraft recognition.