WMU hosts NIFA regional flying competition
Oct. 5, 2005
BATTLE CREEK, Mich.--College pilots from seven states will fly in to Western Michigan University's College of Aviation in Battle Creek next week for the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's Oct. 11-15 Region III competition.
This is the first time since the 2001-02 school year the annual event, known as SAFECON, has been held on the home field of WMU's team, the Sky Broncos. Collegiate flyers from seven colleges and universities are expected to take part in the event that will determine which Region III teams will qualify for NIFA's nationwide championship event set for next May at Ohio State University.
More than 100 collegiate aviators, their coaches, family members and friends will begin arriving in Battle Creek Sunday, Oct. 9, for the regional competition. Registration begins Monday, Oct. 10, and competition at the W.K. Kellogg Airport will begin Tuesday following a brief 4:30 p.m. opening ceremony featuring WMU President Judith I. Bailey. The event concludes with a Saturday, Oct. 15, awards banquet at which the results of the competition will be announced.
Teams traveling to WMU for the competition are from Andrews University, Kent State University, Ohio University, Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati, WMU and first-time NIFA competitor, Sinclair Community College of Dayton, Ohio.
"We expect to draw 70 to 100 competitors from the schools competing, and 14 to 20 will be coming in along with support staff, coaches, advisors and judges," says WMU's Tom Grossman, chief flight instructor for the College of Aviation and coordinator for this year's regional event.
WMU's 15-member Sky Bronco team is under the leadership of head coach Jim Whittles. Now in his second year as mentor, Whittles says his team has 11 returning members, including three with significant flight experience. He predicts a strong showing in such areas as pre-flight inspection, navigation and several ground events.
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 a regional competition means the team qualifies for a spot in the national competition. Last year's Region III was the closest ever, with just one point separating the winning WMU Sky Broncos from the second-place team from Ohio State.
WMU flight teams have placed among the top three in the nation for 14 consecutive years. Since Ohio State already has an automatic berth as this year's host team for the national event, a total of three teams from Region III will have a chance to compete at nationals.
The SAFECON regional event sponsors include Battle Creek Unlimited, Cirrus Design Corp., Corbi Aircraft Sales, Duncan Aviation, Flight Safety Academy and Symphony Aircraft.
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org