Sky Broncos make clean sweep at regionals, qualify for national event

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

The 2015 Sky Bronco team

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, won the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region III event last week and has qualified for the 2016 national competition next May at Ohio State University.

The 15-member WMU team competed in NIFA's Safety and Evaluation Conference, also at Ohio State, Sept. 27 to Oct. 2. Competing against four collegiate teams in the Region III event, the Sky Broncos captured first place in flight and ground events and took the overall regional title as a team. Individual members of the team took top individual honors at the event as well.

NIFA regional competitions pit schools against each other in five ground events and four flying events. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 10 in each of the events. Sky Bronco team members, for instance, placed first, third and fifth in a single event—short field approach and landing—accruing 48 points for their team. A first- or second-place overall finish at regional competition means the team qualifies for the national competition.

"This makes three consecutive regional titles, and I expect even better things to come from this hard working and talented group of students," said Head Coach Ryan Seiler of the win at Ohio State.

Seiler's assistant coaches are Marty Coaker, Thomas Grossman, Patrick Denney and Jen Prichard. Team captain is Patrick Allen, a junior from Willowbrook, Illinois, studying flight science.

Individual honors won by Sky Broncos at this year's regional event included top pilot, top-scoring male contestant and top-scoring contestant honors for Luke Ostrom, a junior from Orland Park, Illinois. Top-scoring female contestant was Elizabeth Bates, a senior from Plymouth, Massachusetts.

2015 Sky Bronco team

Below is information on the 2015-16 Sky Bronco team members and their first- through 10th-place finishes at the 2015 NIFA regionals at Ohio State.

  • Patrick Allen of Willowbrook, Illinois, is a junior studying aviation flight science and is team captain. He graduated from Hinsdale Central High School in 2013. Allen took first place in short field approach and landing, fifth place in aircraft preflight inspection and sixth place in both the ground trainer event and simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation. He was the drop master on the third-place message drop team, pilot for the ninth place message drop team, and pilot for the team that took eighth place in navigation. Allen came in third in the top-pilot ranking and was second in both the top-scoring contestant and top-scoring male contestant categories.
  • Alexandra Asbury of Grand Rapids, is a freshman studying aviation flight science. She graduated from West Michigan Aviation Academy in 2015.
  • Alex Austin of Port Credit, Ontario, is a sophomore studying aviation flight science. He graduated from Port Credit High School in 2014. Austin placed sixth in computer accuracy, and he was the observer on the sixth-place navigation team.
  • Elizabeth Bates of Plymouth, Massachusetts, is a senior studying aviation flight science. She graduated from Plymouth South High School in 2012. Bates captured first place simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation, second in aircraft preflight inspection, third in computer accuracy and ninth in the ground trainer event. She also was the pilot on both the fifth-place message drop team and the sixth-place navigation team. Bates captured first place in the top-scoring female contestant category and was fourth in the top-scoring contestant category.
  • Kevin Davis of Aurora, Illinois, is a senior studying aviation flight science. He graduated from Waubonsie Valley High School in 2011. Davis placed fifth in computer accuracy.
  • Devvyn Fader of Essexville is a junior studying aviation maintenance technology. He graduated from Garber High School in 2013. He placed third in aircraft recognition.
  • Andrew Gabalski of Columbus, Ohio, is a junior studying aviation flight science. He graduated from Whetstone High School in 2014. He was the drop master on the fifth-place message drop team.
  • Collin Kearney of Grosse Ile is a junior studying aviation flight science. He graduated from Grosse Ile High School in 2013. Kearney captured fifth place in short field approach and landing and seventh place in both the power off landing and simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation events.  He also was the observer on the eighth place navigation team. Kearney also ranked eighth in the event's top pilot standings as well as the top-scoring male contestant rankings and 10th in top-scoring contestant standings.
  • Wendell Kury of Commack, New York, is a junior studying aviation flight science. He graduated from Commack High School in 2012. He placed seventh in aircraft recognition.
  • Joshua Nienhaus of Grand Rapids is a sophomore studying aviation flight science. He graduated from West Michigan Aviation Academy in 2014. He captured first place in aircraft recognition.
  • Mack Odell of Zeeland is a junior studying aviation flight science. He graduated from Zeeland East High School in 2013. He placed fifth in both aircraft recognition and in the ground trainer event.
  • Luke Ostrom of Orland Park, Illinois, is a junior studying aviation flight science. He graduated from Carl Sandburg High School in 2013. Ostrom was the pilot for both the third place message drop team and the fifth-place navigation team.  He was the drop master for the ninth place message drop team. He took second place in both power-off landings and in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation, third place in short field approach and landing, and fourth place in aircraft preflight inspection. He was named top pilot, top-scoring male contestant and top-scoring contestant.
  • Matthew A. Smith of Sand Lake is a sophomore studying aviation flight science. He graduated from West Michigan Aviation Academy in 2014. He placed ninth in aircraft recognition.
  • John Vanderlaan of Spring Lake is a junior studying aviation flight science. He graduated from Spring Lake High School in 2011. He took eighth place in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.
  • Amanda Marie Zeeb of Angola, Indiana, is a senior studying aviation flight science. She graduated from Angola High School in 2002. She took first place in computer accuracy, and she was the observer on the two-person navigation team that took fifth place. Zeeb came in fourth place in the top-scoring female contestant ranking.

For more information, visit the WMU College of Aviation at wmich.edu/aviation.

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