WMU News

Sky Broncos capture second place in national flying championship

May 22, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's flight team, the Sky Broncos, took second place in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship that concluded Saturday (May 20) in Grenada, Miss., making this the ninth consecutive year the team has earned a top three national ranking.

The 14-member team, which represented WMU's College of Aviation, turned in outstanding performances in the navigation and aircraft recognition events and took second in both the overall flight and ground portions of the competition. The University of North Dakota won the championship and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott, last year's winner, came in third. Delta State University was the host team for this year's event.

The Sky Broncos have placed in the top three at the NIFA championship in each of the past nine years and last won the event in 1998. The team finished in third place last year.

"Overall, the team did a really good job and put in a very balanced performance," says head coach Ryan Seiler. "We improved tremendously over last year's effort. Our point total this year would have been enough to win the event in other years, but not this time."

At the NIFA championship, team members compete in six ground events and four flight events for a total of 10 opportunities to earn points. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 10 in each of the judged events. More than 150 pilots from 31 teams took part in this year's event.

Jesse A. Coeling, a WMU senior from Hudsonville, Mich., and the Sky Broncos co-captain, came in third in the event's "Top Pilot" standings. He earned top 10 placements in four of 10 judged events, including a first place in the navigation event.

All three of WMU's entries in the navigation competition placed in the top 10, with the team made up of Coeling and Mike Cherry of Charlevoix, Mich., taking first. Senior Sky Broncos co-captain Jay Orwin of Carleton, Mich., and sophomore Reese Swanson of Gilroy, Calif., took 5th place in the event. Senior Matthew White of Temperance, Mich., and sophomore Jess Dudley of Howell, Mich., took sixth.

The Sky Broncos saw all five of the team's entries in the aircraft recognition event earn top 10 placements. Cherry won the event; sophomore Jason McDowell of Willis, Mich., took second; Coeling took fourth; sophomore Martin Coaker of Rockford, Mich., took sixth place; and White came in ninth.

Sky Broncos team members also scored top 10 placements in short field landings, power off landings, message drop, simulator, preflight inspection and simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.

Competitors at this year's NIFA championship included the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, Ohio State University, Florida Tech, Purdue University and Auburn University.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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