Sky Broncos extend top-four streak in national competition
May 14, 2008
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, finished in fourth place at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship that concluded May 10 at Middle Tennessee University in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The Sky Broncos came in behind three of the team's longtime rivals, making this year's finish a replica of the 2007 finish. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott captured first place, and the University of North Dakota and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona, took second and third places, respectively. The six-day competition concluded with a Saturday evening awards ceremony at which the final results were announced.
The annual competition attracted more than 400 pilots from teams representing 31 of the top aviation schools in the nation, resulting in a 2008 event one of the largest in NIFA's history. Each school earned the right to compete at nationals by winning or placing second in regional competition. Among the other schools represented at this year's national championship were the U.S. Air Force Academy; Kent State, Ohio State, San Jose State and Southern Illinois universities; and the universities of Central Missouri and Illinois.
Teams accrue points to determine final standings by having individual team members place in the top slots in the competition's 11 judged flight and ground events. The Sky Broncos placed third overall in ground events and sixth in flight events. This is the 17th consecutive year the WMU team has been among the top four teams in national competition. The team last won the national title in 2002.
Leading the Sky Broncos in scoring this year was April graduate Benjamin Lauer of Alpena, Mich., who finished in third place among all male contestants and seventh in the top-pilot standings. He also was named the WMU team's top competitor for the competition and was honored as NIFA's Region II top pilot.
A 2007 WMU graduate Jennifer Jakubiec of Commerce Township, Mich., came in third overall in the top female-pilot standings.
The Sky Broncos head coach is James Whittles, aviation specialist with the WMU College of Aviation. Assistant coaching duties this year were handled by Tom Grossman, the University's chief flight instructor. The team co-captains were Lauer and Jared Neterer, an aviation flight science major from Mattawan, Mich.
This is the second year the Sky Broncos have competed with the help of corporate sponsorship provided by L-3 Avionics Systems of Grand Rapids, Mich.
2008 Sky Broncos
Jacob Bragg of Saline, Mich., and son of Diane and Danny Bragg, is a 2004 graduate of Saline High School. He is a junior majoring in aviation flight science.
Jeremy Jackson of Duluth, Ga., is the son of Toni and Harvey Jackson. He is a junior majoring in aviation administration and communication studies. He placed 11th in the SCAN event--simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.
Jennifer Jakubiec of Commerce Township, Mich., and a 2002 graduate of Walled Lake Western High School, is the daughter of Donean and Frank Jakubiec. She is a 2007 WMU alumna who majored in aviation flight science. Jakubiec placed third overall among female contestants. In individual events, she placed first in aircraft preflight was 12th in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation. She also was part of the 20th-place team in navigation.
Kyle Johnson of Arnold, Mo., is the son of Lisa Johnson-Reister and Philip Johnson, both of Arnold. He is a 2005 graduate of Fox High School and a junior majoring in aviation flight science.
Kevin Kotewa of Memphis, Mich., is the son of Elizabeth and Philip Kotewa and a 2003 graduate of New Life Christian Academy High School. An April graduate of WMU, he majored in aviation flight science. He was part of the fourth-place team in message drop and the 16th-place team in navigation
Benjamin A. Lauer of Alpena, Mich., is a 2003 graduate of Alpena High School. The son of Karen and Kenneth Lauer, he is an April graduate who majored in aviation flight science. Lauer, who was named WMU's top team member for the competition, had the third highest score for the event's male competitors and placed seventh in the national top-pilot award. In individual events, he placed fourth in both power-off landing and instrument flight rating simulated flight. He also placed sixth in ground trainer and 10th in aircraft recognition. He was part of the first-place team in crew resource management, the fourth-place team in the message drop and the 16th-place team in navigation. He is co-captain of the 2007-08 Sky Broncos team.
Dave Lerond of Dorr, Mich., is the son of Bill and Laurie Taylor and a 2005 graduate of Hopkins High School in Hopkins, Mich. He is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science and plans to also earn a master's degree in business administration.
Erick McDaniel of Battle Creek, Mich., and a 2005 graduate of Culver Military Academy in Culver, Ind., is the son of Paula and Douglas McDaniel. He is a junior studying aviation science and business administration. He placed fifth in aircraft recognition and was part of the fifth place team in navigation.
Kathryn Meyer of Grand Rapids, Mich., is the daughter of John and Kimille Meyer and a 2006 graduate of Forest Hills Central High School. She is a sophomore majoring in aviation maintenance and business management.
Jared K. Neterer of Mattawan, Mich., is a 2005 graduate of Paw Paw High School. He is the son of Holly and Richard Neterer and a senior studying aviation flight science. He placed first in computer accuracy and third in aircraft preflight inspection. He also placed 20th in navigation and was 20th in the ranking of top-scoring male contestants.
Drew Pearson of Battle Creek, Mich., and a 2003 graduate of South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, Wash., is the son of Jill Pearson. He is a junior majoring in aviation flight science. He placed eighth in computer accuracy.
Tyler Jason Rice of Melbourne, Fla., a 2004 graduate of West Shore Junior/Senior High School, is the son of Sondra Goodson of Grand Prairie, Texas, and Kevin Rice of Indialantic Beach, Fla. He is an April graduate who majored in aviation flight science. Rice came in second in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation. He also was part of the first-place team in crew resource management and the fifth-place team in navigation. He was 13th overall among male contestants.
John Robbins II of Munith, Mich., is the son of Ruth Noe of Munith and John Robbins of Auburn, Mich. He is a 2007 graduate of Western High School in Auburn and a freshman majoring in aviation flight science.
Lee Wierenga of Grandville, Mich., is the son of Carl and Mary Wierenga and a 2005 graduate of Grandville High School. He is a junior majoring in aviation flight science. He placed 11th in computer accuracy.
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