WMU News

Sky Broncos prepare for national flight championship

May 10, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's flight team, the Sky Broncos, is in North Dakota preparing to compete in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's May 15-19 championship.

The 15-member team, which represent's WMU's College of Aviation, earned a berth in this year's national event by capturing second place last October in NIFA's Region III competition at Kent State University. The national event will be held in Grand Forks, N.D., with the University of North Dakota as host team.

At last year's NIFA championship, the Sky Broncos placed second to perennial powerhouse North Dakota, making it the ninth consecutive year the WMU team earned a top-three placement at the national event. The Sky Broncos last won the national championship in1998.

"Our chances this year look very good," says Ryan Seiler, Sky Bronco head coach and a College of Aviation flight instructor. He notes that 11 of this year's team members were on last year's team.

At the NIFA championship, team members compete in six ground events and four flight events for a total of 10 opportunities to earn points. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 10 in each of the judged events.

"We are stronger than usual in ground events, this year," notes Seiler. "And we've always been known for our strength in the flight events, especially navigation. After regionals, though, we realized we needed to focus more on landing events for this competition and that is just what we've been doing for the past six months. Now we are a really well-balanced team."

The NIFA competition will conclude with an awards banquet Saturday, May 19, at which event results will be announced. The Sky Broncos will return to the College of Aviation's Battle Creek facilities Sunday, May 20.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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