Sky Broncos compete for national flying championship
May 19, 2003
KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, is in North Dakota this week defending its national title at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship May 17-21.
The 15-member Sky Bronco team from WMU's College of Aviation dominated NIFA's Region III competition last October to earn a berth in this month's national event, held on the University of North Dakota's home airfield in Grand Forks. The Sky Broncos were the 2002 national champions and have placed in the top three in national competition for 11 consecutive years.
The 2003 event concludes Wednesday, May 21, with an evening awards banquet. Results of the competition will not be known until late that evening.
NIFA national competitions pit schools against each other in six ground events and five flying events. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 10 in each of the events. A team first- or second-place finish at a regional competition means the team qualifies for a spot in the national competition.
Head coach Tom Grossman who is the College of Aviation's chief flight instructor, says his team's recent practice schedule has put it in good position for the competition. With a week's worth of pre-event practice, team members will have an opportunity to become familiar with the significantly different terrain around Grand Forks and comfortable with flight control operations and landing patterns at the airfield.
"That will be especially important for our pilots involved in the landing and navigation events," he says.
Grossman says this year's Sky Broncos team is somewhat inexperienced in terms of competitive background in the flight events. Only one returning member of last year's team has competed in flight events at the national level. But the team's been doing well in practice, and Grossman thinks the group may be set to peak in some important events and do well overall. Recent practices for the landings and navigation events have gone particularly well.
"WMU has historically dominated the navigation event," he says. "I think we're very much on our game and we'll do very well in navigation again this year."
The Sky Broncos are led by co-captains Darin Dumas, an April 2003 graduate from Dearborn Heights, Mich. and Marc Kobaissi, a junior from Barrington, Ill. Both were members of last year's championship team.
Steven Trachuk of Canton, Mich., and James Whittles of Holland, Mich., are assistant coaches.
2003 Sky Broncos
Ian Alexander, a 2001 graduate of Grandville (Mich.) High School, is the son of Janice and Michael Alexander and a sophomore, majoring in aviation flight science.
Robbie Beechuk of Plymouth, Mich., is a 2001 graduate of Detroit Catholic Central High School in Redford, Mich., and the son of Lorraine and Daniel Beechuk of Plymouth. He is a sophomore majoring in integrated supply matrix management.
Andrew Drake, a 2000 graduate of Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., is the son of Debra Nystrom and Thomas Drake of Chico, Calif., and a junior majoring in aviation flight science.
Darin Dumas of Dearborn Heights, Mich., a 1996 graduate of Crestwood High School, is the son of Laura and Robert Dumas. Co-captain of the team, he graduated from WMU in April with a degree in aviation flight science.
Travis Epp of Clarklake, Mich., a 2001 graduate of
Napoleon High School, is the son of Jan Epp of Clarklake and
Rodger Epp of Howell, Mich. He is a sophomore majoring in aviation
Jelani Kelley of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., a 2001 graduate of Lahser High School, is the son of Carol and Marcus Kelley. He is a sophomore majoring in aviation maintenance technology.
Marc Kobaissi, a 2000 graduate of Barrington (Ill.) High School, is the son of Barbara and Hassan Kobaissi. He is a junior majoring in aviation flight sciences and is co-captain of the Sky Broncos.
Marshall Lynn of Holly, Mich., a 2000 graduate of St. Mary's Prep School in Orchard Lake, Mich. is the son of Therese and Dwight Lynn. He is a junior majoring in aviation flight science
Justin Lipka of Ira, Mich., a 2001 graduate of Anchor Bay High School in New Baltimore, Mich., is the son of Debby Lipka. He is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science.
William Mastick of Waterford, Mich., a 2000 graduate of Our Lady of the Lakes High School is the son of Kellie and Gary Dovre. He is a junior majoring in Spanish and aviation flight science.
Jonathan Pridgeon of Montgomery, Mich., is a 2001 graduate of Reading (Mich.) High School. The son of Diane and Mike Pridgeon, he is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science.
Amanda Renouf of Waterford, Mich., is the daughter of Marj and Jerry Renouf. A home-schooled student before college, she is a junior in aviation flight science.
Aaron Trombley of Medford, N.J., a1995 graduate of Shawnee High School is the son of Joyce and Eugene Trombley. He is a junior majoring in aviation flight science.
Alicia Nault of Fond du Lac, Wisc., a 2001 graduate of Goodrich High School, is the daughter of Susan and Michael Nault. She is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science.
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org