WMU News

Sky Broncos set to defend national title

May 9, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, heads for North Dakota Saturday, May 10, to prepare to defend its national title at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship May 17-21.

The 15-member Sky Bronco team from the College of Aviation dominated NIFA's Region III competition last October to earn a berth in this month's national event, which will be held on the University of North Dakota's home airfield in Grand Forks. The Sky Broncos were the 2002 national champions and have placed in the top three in national competition for 11 consecutive years.

The 2003 event is set to begin Saturday, May 17, and conclude Wednesday, May 21, with an evening awards banquet. Results of the competition will not be known until late that evening.

NIFA national competitions pit schools against each other in six ground events and five flying events. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 10 in each of the events. A team first- or second-place finish at a regional competition means the team qualifies for a spot in the national competition.

Head coach Tom Grossman who is the College of Aviation's chief flight instructor, says his team's recent practice schedule has put them in good position for the competition. With a week's worth of pre-event practice, team members will have an opportunity to become familiar with the significantly different terrain around Grand Forks, as well as become comfortable with flight control operations and landing patterns at the airfield.

"That will be especially important for our pilots involved in the landing and navigation events," he says.

Grossman says this year's Sky Broncos team is somewhat inexperienced in terms of competitive experience in the flight events, with only one returning member of last year's team who has competed in flight events at the national level. But the team's been doing well in practice, and he thinks they may be set to peak in some important events and do well overall. Recent practice for the landings and navigation events has gone particularly well.

"WMU has historically dominated the navigation event," he says. "I think we're very much on our game and will do very well in navigation again this year."

The Sky Broncos are led by co-captains Darin Dumas, an April 2003 graduate from Dearborn Heights, Mich., and Marc Kobaissi, a junior from Barrington, Ill. Both were members of last year's championship team.

Steven Trachuk of Canton, Mich., and James Whittles of Holland, Mich., are assistant coaches.

2003 Sky Broncos Precision Flight Team

Ian Alexander is a freshman from Grandville, Mich.

Robbie Beechuk is a sophomore from Plymouth, Mich.

Andrew Drake is a junior originally from Ann Arbor, Mich.

Darin Dumas is an April graduate from Dearborn Heights, Mich.

Travis Epp is a sophomore from Ann Arbor, Mich.

Mike Kalinski is a senior from Garden City, Mich.

Jelani Kelley is a sophomore from Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Marc Kobaissi is a junior from Barrington, Ill.

Justin Lipka is sophomore from Ira, Mich.

Marshall Lynn is a junior from Holly, Mich.

William Mastick is a junior from Waterford, Mich.

Alicia Nault is a sophomore from Fond Du Lac, Wisc.

Jonathan Pridgeon is a sophomore from Montgomery, Mich.

Amanda Renouf is a junior from Whitehall, Mich.

Aaron Trombley is a junior from Medford, N.J.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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