WMU's Sky Broncos capture fourth place in national competition

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Photo of the 2015 Sky Broncos team.

2015 Sky Broncos team (Photo credit: WMU Sky Broncos)

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Sky Broncos finished fourth in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's championship competition that concluded May 16 in Columbus, Ohio.

Competing against some 350 young aviators from teams representing 29 of the top aviation schools in the nation, the 15-member WMU team came in fourth in flight events and seventh in ground events to place fourth overall. The event winner was Southern Illinois University. Longtime WMU rivals University of North Dakota and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott came in second and third, respectively.

Sky Bronco Elizabeth A. Bates of Plymouth, Massachusetts, captured the title of top-scoring female contestant at the event, while Chris Reichert of Climax was the Sky Broncos' highest placing male pilot, ranking in 11th place. Reichert was in sixth place in the overall top pilot standings, while Bates was in ninth place.

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 last October's NIFA Region III event at Ohio State University. The team last won the national title in 2002.

NIFA competitions pit schools against each other in seven ground events and four flying events. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 20 in each of the events.

This year's Sky Broncos were led by team co-captains Alex Bych of Somers, Connecticut, and Andrew Koch of Chelsea. Also traveling with the team was Head Coach and Faculty Advisor Ryan Seiler and Assistant Coach Marty Coaker, an alumnus from the 2002 national championship team.

Team members

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 and high school, major and placements through 20th place in the 11 scored events.

Patrick D. Allen

Allen, of Willowbrook, Illinois, is a 2013 graduate of Hinsdale (Ill.) Central High School and is studying aviation flight science and flight administration at WMU. He placed ninth in the Ground Trainer category and he tied for 15th place in Short-Field Approach and Landing. He was the observer on the two-person Sky Bronco Navigation team that placed fourth, and he was part of the two-person team that captured ninth place in Crew Resource Management/Line Oriented Flight Training.

Alex Austin

Austin, of Mississauga, Ontario, is a 2014 graduate of Port Credit Secondary School and is studying aviation flight science.

Elizabeth A. Bates

Bates, of Plymouth, Massachusetts, is a 2012 graduate of Plymouth South High School and is studying aviation flight science at WMU. She was the pilot on the two-person Navigation team that tied for fourth place, and she came in fourth in Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation—SCAN. She was the top-scoring female pilot and ranked ninth in the event's Top Pilot standings.

Alex J. Bych

Bych, of Somers, Connecticut, graduated from Somers High School in 2011 and is studying aviation flight science. He placed 14th in Power-Off Landings and was the pilot on the 10th place Message Drop team. He was ninth in Aircraft Preflight Inspection and 17th in Aircraft Recognition.

Kevin G. Davis

Davis, of Naperville, Illinois, is majoring in aviation flight science. He is a 2011 graduate of Waubonsie Valley High School.

Devvyn A. Fader

Fader, of Essexville is a 2013 graduate of Garber High School and is studying aviation maintenance. He placed 18th in Aircraft Recognition and was named the Sky Broncos' outstanding team member for the competition.

Andrew Gabalski

Gabalski, of Columbus, Ohio, is a 2014 graduate of Whetstone High School and is studying aviation flight science.

Collin J. Kearney

Kearney, of Grosse Ile is a 2013 graduate of Grosse Ile High School and is studying aviation flight science. He was part of the two-person team that captured ninth place in Crew Resource Management/Line Oriented Flight Training event.

Andrew M. Koch

Koch, of Chelsea is a 2011 graduate of Chelsea High School and is studying aviation flight science. He placed seventh in Short-Field Approach and Landing and 20th in Power-off Landings.

Mack Odell

Odell, of Zeeland is a 2013 graduate of Zeeland East High School and is studying aviation flight science.

Luke H. Ostrom

Ostrom, of Orland Park, Illinois, is a 2013 graduate of Carl Sandburg High School and is studying aviation flight science. He was part of the two-person team that took 10th place in Message Drop, and he placed 11th in Short-Field Approach and Landing.

Joshua J. Nienhaus

Nienhaus, of Grand Rapids is a 2014 graduate of West Michigan Aviation Academy and is studying aviation flight science.

Chris A. Reichert

Reichert, of Climax is a 2010 graduate of Climax-Scotts High School and is an aviation flight science student. He captured first place in Aircraft Preflight Inspection, third place in Power-off Landings, 16th in Computer Accuracy and 16th in the IFR Simulated Flight category. He ranked 11th among male contestants and was in sixth place in the event's Top Pilot standings.

John Vanderlaan

Vanderlaan, of Spring Lake is a 2011 graduate of Spring Lake High School and is studying aviation flight science.

Amanda Marie Zeeb

Zeeb, of Angola, Indiana, is a 2002 graduate of Angola High School and is studying aviation flight science.

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