Sky Broncos precision flight team places 8th in national competition

Contact: Deanne Puca
Members of the Sky Broncos precision flight team posing on the tarmac of the Aviation Education Center.

2021-22 Sky Broncos precision flight team

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, placed eighth overall in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) 2022 Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) held May 9 to 14 at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, earned the top spot in the championship out of flight teams from 26 universities. 

The 14-member Western team is coached by flight instructors Austin Barrett and James Rundhaug. Ryan Seiler, aviation master faculty specialist, is their faculty advisor. The team qualified for nationals by placing second overall in NIFA's Region III SAFECON in October 2021.

Teams earn points for members who finish in the top 10 in a series of flight and ground events. WMU's team accrued 187 points during the event, placing fourth for ground events and 10th for flight events. The team also placed sixth for the judges’ trophy.

“This Sky Broncos team was a joy to coach and mentor. Coaching this season allowed me to watch them sharpen their skills as collegiate aviators and as friends,” says Barrett. “There is nothing quite like the bond that 10 days at a competition like this gives you. I am excited to see what the future holds for this hardworking team.”

National events consisted of three written tests for computer accuracy, aircraft recognition and simulated comprehensive aerial navigation plus the ground trainer simulator and aircraft preflight events.

2021-22 Sky Broncos team

Below is information on the 2021-22 Sky Broncos team members and their first- through 10th-place finishes at the NIFA 2022 SAFECON. All members are aviation flight science majors.

  • Kyle Albrecht, a senior from Hartland, Michigan, placed ninth as pilot for unlimited navigation and 10th for simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.

  • Umid Avchiyev is a junior from Uzbekistan.

  • Bazil Azeem is a junior from India.

  • Jessica Bernin, a junior from Wauconda, Illinois, placed sixth for aircraft preflight inspection and eighth as dropmaster for message drop.

  • Morgan Carstensen is a junior from Howell, Michigan.

  • Evin Cooper is a junior from Monroe, Michigan.

  • Brock Fransen, a senior from Lena, Illinois, placed eighth for aircraft preflight inspection.

  • Evan Hoyle, is a freshman from Rockford, Michigan.

  • Tyler Iverson is a sophomore from Benzonia, Michigan.

  • Angelo Molina, a sophomore from Davison, Michigan, was named an outstanding team member.

  • Nicolas Olnhausen, a senior from Toledo, Ohio, is the team captain and placed 10th for pilot flying for crew resource management/line oriented flight training (CRM/LOFT).

  • Carter Peterson, a junior from Carlsbad, California, placed ninth as safety observer for unlimited navigation.

  • Antonino Serra is a senior from Macomb, Michigan.

  • Jack Skoczen, a senior from St. Charles, Illinois, placed seventh for aircraft recognition, eighth as pilot for message drop, 10th for pilot monitoring for CRM/LOFT and 10th as pilot for power-off landing.

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