Sky Broncos take regional title
Oct. 17, 2005
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, captured the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's Region III title this week with strong performances in all of the competition's 10 events.
The 15-member WMU team finished with 305 points. Kent State University finished second with a total of 132 points, and Ohio University came in third with 101 points. The competition began Oct. 11 at the Sky Broncos' home field at W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, Mich. The results were announced at the competition's concluding banquet Oct. 15. The regional win, WMU's 14th in 15 years, secures a berth for the WMU team at NIFA's national championship, which is slated for May 8-13 at Ohio State University.
NIFA regional and national competitions pit schools against each other in six ground events and four 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 regional competition means the team qualifies for the national competition. In addition to their overall win at this year's regionals, the Sky Broncos captured both the flight and ground event trophies, winning eight of the 10 judged events.
"This was a phenomenal representation of who we are as a college and what we do," said Sky Bronco Head Coach James Whittles of his team's performance. "This was a total team effort, and I don't mean just the flight team. The whole college was 100 percent behind us. We're ready to go to nationals."
The Sky Broncos were led in the regional effort by veteran team members Travis Epp of Clark Lake, Mich., and Garrett Heinz of Birmingham, Mich., who came in first and second, respectively, in the competition for the event's top-pilot honors. Heinz also serves as team captain. Another veteran team member, Robert Beechuk of Plymouth, Mich., took fourth in the top-pilot standings.
In six of the 10 events, the Broncos captured both first- and second-place finishes. In one of those--computer accuracy--the team swept the five top positions. The Sky Broncos also captured the top four spots in aircraft recognition.
In addition to Whittles, coaching duties for the Sky Broncos were handled by assistant coach and flight instructor Steve Tkachuk, as well as two former Sky Broncos standouts, Ian Alexander and Marc Kobaissi, who were members of the 2002 national championship team. WMU flight teams have placed among the top three in the nation for 14 consecutive years.
2005-06 Sky Broncos
Topa Augustine of Santa Fe, N.M., is the daughter of James Klukkert of Santa Fe and Nina Augustine of Port Hueneme Calif. A psychology major, she placed third in aircraft recognition, and she was part of a two-person team that placed sixth in the message drop event. She also placed ninth in aircraft preflight inspection.
Robert Beechuk of Plymouth, Mich., is the son of Lorraine and Daniel Beechuk of Plymouth. He is a senior majoring in finance. Beechuk came in second in aircraft recognition, tied for second in the short-field approach and landing event and was third in power-off landings. He was part of the two-person team that took sixth place in the message drop event and part of the two-person team that won an event focused on crew resource management and line-oriented flight training. Beechuk came in fourth in the top-pilot standings.
Travis Epp of Clark Lake, Mich., is a senior and the son of Jan Epp of Clark Lake and Rodger Epp of Howell, Mich., and an aviation flight science major. Epp captured overall top-pilot honors, finishing first in both the power-off landing event and aircraft preflight inspection. He was part of the second-place navigation team, and he tied for second place in short-field approach and landing. He also took second in computer accuracy.
Amanda Evans of Traverse City, Mich., is the daughter of Mark and Patty Evans and is majoring in aviation administration. She came in first in the computer accuracy event.
Garrett Heinz of Birmingham, Mich., is the son of Joan and Warren Heinz. An aviation flight science major, he was part of the first-place navigation team as well as part of the two-person team that won an event focused on crew resource management and line-oriented flight training. He also took first place in the ground trainer event, fourth place in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation and sixth place in the short-field approach and landing event. He also was ninth in the power-off landing event.
Jennifer Jakubiec of Commerce Township, Mich., is the daughter of Frank and Donean Jakubiec and an aviation flight science major. She came in second in aircraft preflight inspection, and she was part of the two-person team that took second in navigation. She also placed ninth in the simulated computer aircraft navigation event.
Blake Koehn of Marquette, Mich., is the son of Kent and Denise Koehn and an aviation flight science major. He took second place in the power-off landings event and third place in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation. He also was part of the ninth-place navigation team, and he came in sixth in the top-pilot standings.
Kevin Kotewa of Memphis, Mich., is the son of Elizabeth and Philip Kotewa and an aviation flight science major.
Benjamin Lauer of Alpena, Mich., is the son of Kenneth and Karen Lauer and an aviation flight science major. He captured first place in aircraft recognition, second place in the ground trainer event and he was part of the ninth-place navigation team.
Morad Leeal of Farmington Hills, Mich., is the son of Mali and Mati Leeal. He is majoring in aviation flight science and aviation administration. Leeal took fifth place in computer accuracy and sixth place in the ground trainer event.
Erick McDaniel of Battle Creek, Mich., is a first-year team member and is the son of Darla and Douglas McDaniel. He took fourth place in the aircraft recognition event.
Jared Neterer of Mattawan, Mich., is the son of Richard and Holly Neterer and an aviation flight science major. He took fourth place in the computer accuracy event.
Chris Reif of Lansing, Ill., is the son of Robert Reif of Munster, Ind., and Liv Reif of Lansing. He is a junior majoring in aviation flight science and aviation administration. He placed third in computer accuracy and seventh in short field approach and landing.
Tyler Rice of Indian Harbor Beach, Fla., is the son of Kevin Rice of Indian Harbor Beach and Sandra Goodson of Grand Prairie, Texas. He is majoring in aviation flight science. Rice placed first in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation, and he was part of the two-member team that won the navigation event.
Joel Riemersma of Holland, Mich., is the son of Karen and Doug Riemersma and an aviation flight science major. He took eighth place in the simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation event.
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org