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Sky Broncos capture regional title, qualify for nationals

by Cheryl Roland

Oct. 29, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, won top honors in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region III event last week and has qualified for next spring's national competition, which will be held May 14-19 at Kansas State University.

Photo of Sky Broncos precision flight team.
Sky Broncos show off their trophies from last week's competition.
The 13-member WMU team competed in NIFA's Safety and Evaluation Conference at Ohio University Oct. 24-28. The Sky Broncos took second place in both the flight and ground events, finishing first overall with a total of 211 points. Ohio State University was second with 186 points and host school Ohio University came in third with 180 points. Five collegiate teams competed in the Region III event.

NIFA regional 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. Two-person Sky Bronco teams, for instance, placed second, third and ninth in the navigation event, accruing 38 points for their team. A first- or second-place finish at regional competition means the team qualifies for the national competition.

"This was a true team effort as evidenced by the fact that they took second place in both ground events and flying events but were still able to take first place overall," says Faculty Advisor Ryan Seiler. "The team was very deep and balanced, which allowed them to take the regional title."

The Sky Broncos are led this year by Head Coach Kyle Johnson, a June 2009 graduate from Arnold, Mo.; Assistant Coach Thomas Grossman, the college's chief flight instructor; and Seiler, who is Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program coordinator.

Team captain is Benjamin Hastings, a senior from Hillsdale, Mich., studying aviation science and administration. Individual honors won by Sky Broncos at the regional event included second and third place in the Top Pilot standings, which were captured by John Robbins Jr. of Auburn, Mich., and Kyle Mallory of Rochester, N.Y., respectively. Kaitlin Klingler, also of Hillsdale, was the top scoring female contestant at the event.

Below are information on the team members and their first- through 10th-place finishes at the 2011 NIFA regionals at Ohio University.

WMU Sky Broncos 2011-12

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