WMU News

Sky Broncos head to Ohio for regional competition

Oct. 10, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, will head to Ohio University this weekend to take part in the Oct. 14-18 National Intercollegiate Flying Association's Region III competition.

The Sky Broncos team, which nabbed third place last year in the national flight championship, returns for competition this year nearly intact. The 14 members of the 2003-04 team include 12 who were members of last year's team and now have the experience of both regional and national competitions to draw upon. Ground and flying events are part of the competition at both levels.

"I am very excited about the team's potential this year," says head coach Tom Grossman, chief flying instructor for the WMU College of Aviation. "Nearly all of the team members are returning members from previous years with quite impressive experience. While we have often relied on our strength in the ground events, this years depth in flight events is quite impressive, and we're all looking forward to some very positive results this coming week in Ohio."

Grossman says his team may leave Saturday, Oct. 11, for the regional competition, which will begin Tuesday, Oct. 14, at Gordon K. Bush Ohio University Regional Airport in Albany, Ohio. If the weather permits, the team will use its first few days at OU to practice and become familiar with the local terrain.

The 2003-04 Sky Broncos will be led by co-captains Ian Alexander, an aviation flight science major from Grandville, Mich., and Jelani Kelley, an aviation maintenance technology major from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Both Alexander and Kelley have been with the team since the 2001-02 season.

NIFA regional and national 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. A team first- or second-place finish at regional competition means the team qualifies for the national competition, which will be held next April at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Last year's WMU team dominated the regional event, which was held at Ohio State University. WMU teams have placed in the top three in national competition for 12 consecutive years.

Besides WMU and OU and OSU, other schools with flight teams eligible to compete in NIFA Region III are Andrews University, Bowling Green State University, Kent State University, the University of Cincinnati and the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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