Sky Broncos get ready for national championship

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Photo of the Sky Broncos precision flight team.

The 2014 Sky Broncos team

KALAMAZOO—Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, is in Columbus, Ohio, in search of a national title as the National Intercollegiate Flying Association holds its 2014 championship May 12-17 at Ohio State University's Don Scott Field.

The 12-member Sky Broncos traveling team headed to Ohio May 7 to get ready to compete with schools from across the country. The annual competition attracts some 400 pilots from teams representing 30 of the top aviation schools in the nation.

Schools earn the right to compete at nationals by winning or placing second in regional competitions. The Sky Broncos qualified by winning last October's NIFA's Region III event on their home field. This is the 22nd consecutive year the Sky Broncos have qualified to compete at nationals. The team last won the national title in 2002.

NIFA competitions pit schools against each other in seven ground events and four flying events. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 20 in each of the events.

Team members

The team's head coach is Ryan Seiler, faculty specialist II in WMU's College of Aviation. This year's Sky Broncos are led by team captain Joe Batchelder of South Haven, Mich. Event captains are Alex Bych of Somers, Conn., and Elizabeth Bates of Plymouth, Mass. Also traveling with the team is Assistant Coach Marty Coaker, an alumnus from the 2002 National Championship Team.

Results of the NIFA event will be announced at an awards banquet in Columbus late Saturday, May 17.