Sky Broncos bring home fourth consecutive regional championship

contact: Deanne Puca
| WMU News
Photo of Cirrus SR-20.

Cirrus SR-20 aircraft (Photo credit: WMU College of Aviation)

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University’s precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, won the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region III event Oct. 9-15 and has qualified for the 2017 national competition next May at Ohio State University.

The 15-member team won the flight and ground championships to take first place and bring home their 4th consecutive Regional Championship. Capturing the top spot in both flight and ground events at regionals, WMU aviators qualified for the national competition May 9-14. Traveling with them was faculty advisor and Sky Bronco Head Coach Ryan Seiler.

Last year's Sky Broncos team finished fifth in the national competition, competing against teams from 25 colleges and universities around the country.

2016-17 Sky Broncos team

Below is information on the 2016-17 Sky Broncos team members and their first- through 10th-place finishes at the 2017 NIFA regionals held at Bowling Green State University.

  • Alex Austin is a junior from Mississauga, Ontario, studying aviation flight science. He placed third in computer accuracy and third as the safety observer for his team in navigation. 
  • Brett Been is a freshman from Orland Park, Illinois, studying aviation flight science.
  • Brian Erhart is a junior from Belmont who is studying aerospace engineering. He placed first in computer accuracy.
  • Devvyn Fader is a junior from Essexville who is studying aviation maintenance technology. He placed second in preflight inspection and sixth in aircraft recognition. 
  • Andrew Gabalski is a senior from Columbus, Ohio, studying aviation flight science. He was the eighth highest-scoring contestant at regionals, placing third in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation, fifth in preflight inspection, seventh as the dropmaster for his team in message drop and ninth in short-field landing.
  • Sam Haveman is a freshman from Grand Rapids who is studying aerospace engineering. He placed ninth in computer accuracy.
  • Collin Kearney is a senior from Grosse Ile who is studying aviation flight science. He was named an outstanding team member, was the third-highest scoring contestant and took second place as top pilot in the competition. He placed first in power-off landing, first in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation, third as the pilot for his team in navigation, fifth in short-field landing, and seventh as the pilot for his team in message drop. 
  • Wendell Kury is a senior from Commack, New York, studying aviation flight science. He placed third in aircraft recognition. 
  •  Joshua Neinhaus is a junior from Brighton who is studying aviation flight science. He was the seventh-highest scoring contestant, placing first in aircraft recognition, sixth as the pilot for his team in navigation, eighth in power-off landing and ninth as the pilot for his team in message drop, 
  • Mack Odell is a senior from Zeeland who is studying aviation flight science. He placed second in aircraft recognition, sixth in ground trainer and sixth as the safety observer for his team in navigation.
  • Luke Ostrom is a senior from Orland Park, Illinois, studying aviation flight science. He was the top scoring contestant, placing third as top pilot in the competition. He placed first as the dropmaster for his team in message drop, second as the pilot for his team in navigation, fourth in power-off landing, fourth in short-field landing, sixth in preflight inspection and sixth in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation. 
  • Lauren Quandt is a junior from Grosse Ile who is studying aviation fight science. She placed sixth in computer accuracy. 
  • James Ray II is a freshman from Davison who is studying aviation flight science. He placed fourth in computer accuracy. 
  • Mathew Smith is a senior from Sand Lake who is studying aviation flight science. He placed fourth in aircraft recognition, seventh in ground trainer and ninth as the dropmaster for his team in message drop.
  • John Vanderlaan is a senior from Spring Lake who is studying aviation flight science. He placed first as the pilot for his team in message drop, second as the safety observer for his team in navigation, fifth in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation and seventh in power-off landing.

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