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Sky Broncos extend streak in national competition

May 15, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, extended its record of success in national competition by flying away with its 15th consecutive top-three finish at this month's National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship held at Ohio State University.

The Sky Broncos placed third the event, following the team's longtime rivals, the University of North Dakota, which captured first place, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott, which took the second-place slot. The five-day competition concluded May 13 with an evening awards ceremony at which the final results were announced. WMU President Judith I. Bailey and College of Aviation Dean Rick Maloney were on hand to attend the ceremony.

"We held on to the tradition of finishing in the top three, but we were there to do more," said Sky Broncos head coach James Whittles of the outcome. "We set our goals pretty high, and our task now is to take the competitive inspiration we're feeling right now and hang onto it through next year when we come back to nail that championship."

The Sky Broncos 15-year streak includes two national championships. Teams earn a berth to the national event by capturing first or second place in regional competitions. The Sky Broncos are in NIFA's Region III, and both the fall regional competition and the 2007 national event will be held at Ohio State.

Leading the Sky Broncos' successful performance this year were recent graduate Travis Epp of Clark Lake, Mich., who came in fourth overall in the top-pilot standings, and Jennifer Jakubiec, an aviation flight science major from Commerce Township, Mich., who captured the third-place slot in the top-female pilot judging. Epp, who was also selected outstanding team member by his teammates, was part of a winning navigation team with Jakubiec and came in third in the preflight inspection event and 10th in the simulated flight event. Jakubiec came in fourth in the preflight event.

Teams accrue points by having members place in the top 10 in the competition's four flight events and six ground events.

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

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