KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, captured sixth place in the 2019 National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship held May 13-18 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The 14-member WMU team competed against 28 other teams from colleges and universities across the nation. The Sky Broncos placed third in flight events, fifth for the judges trophy and seventh in ground events, placing sixth overall. The event winner was University of North Dakota, followed by Southern Illinois University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott, LeTourneau University and the United State Air Force Academy.
Schools earn the right to compete at nationals by winning or placing second in regional competitions. The Sky Broncos qualified for this year's competition by winning their sixth consecutive regional title at last October's NIFA Region III event hosted at Ohio State University. The Sky Broncos last won the national title in 2002.
"I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of this year's team. They are a dedicated group that competed well in some challenging conditions against the best collegiate aviators in the country," says Ryan Seiler, Sky Broncos head coach and a faculty specialist in the College of Aviation. "These students carried on the proud tradition of the Sky Broncos which continues to showcase the skills and talent of our students in the College of Aviation and Western Michigan University."
Seiler was aided in his coaching duties by event coaches Marty Coaker, a member of the 2002 national championship team; Tom Grossman, the college's executive director of flight operations who coached the 2002 team; Patrick Denney, a member of the 1998 national championship team; and Ryan Sewell, a current WMU flight instructor and member of this season's regional championship team.
About the team
The names of Sky Broncos team members and any individual honors won by them at this month's national event are below. Individual placements through 20th place garner points that are compiled to determine both team and individual standings. Sky Bronco information includes each team member's hometown, major and placements through 20th place in the 11 scored events.
- Austin Barrett of Davison, a senior studying aviation flight science, placed sixth in aircraft preflight inspection.
- Brett Been of Orland Park, Illinois, a senior studying aviation flight science, was the 11th top-scoring contestant and placed third in power-off landing, third as a pilot in unlimited navigation, seventh in top pilot, 15th in instrument simulated flight and 17th as a pilot for message drop.
- Brandon Jackson of Tobias, Nebraska, a senior studying aviation flight science, placed third as a safety observer in unlimited navigation and 19th for pilot monitoring for Crew Resource Management/Line Oriented Flight Training.
- Wendell Kury of Commack, New York, a senior studying aviation flight science, placed eighth in aircraft recognition.
- Blake Lehman of Richland is a junior studying aviation flight science.
- Matthieu Menard of Bettendorf, Iowa, a senior studying aviation flight science, placed 10th as a safety observer in unlimited navigation and 19th for pilot flying for Crew Resource Management/Line Oriented Flight Training.
- Nicholas Olnhausen of Toledo, Ohio, a sophomore studying aviation flight science, was named an outstanding team member.
- Lauren Quandt of Grosse Ile, a senior studying aviation flight science and aviation maintenance technology, placed 10th as a pilot in unlimited navigation.
- James Ray of Davison, a senior studying aviation flight science, was named regional top pilot, was the ninth top scoring contestant and scored ninth in short-field landing, ninth as a pilot in unlimited navigation, 10th in ground trainer, 12th in power-off landing and 15th in computer accuracy.
- Charles Rickman of Imlay City is a senior studying aviation flight science.
- James Rundhaug of Hartland is a sophomore studying aviation flight science.
- Jack Skoczen of St. Charles, Illinois, a junior studying aviation flight science, placed 20th in aircraft recognition.
- Justin Teegardin of Carson City, a senior studying aviation flight science, placed 10th in power-off landing, 14th in aircraft preflight inspection and 17th as dropmaster for message drop.
- Matthew VanderWall of Hart, a senior studying geography, scored ninth as a safety observer in unlimited navigation.
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.