Western Michigan University‘s precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, finished in third place at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship that concluded May 23 at Parks College of St. Louis University.
The Sky Broncos came in behind two of the team’s longtime rivals to take the third-place slot, extending the team’s record to 18 consecutive top-four finishes in the annual national event. Three national championships, the last in 2002, are included in that run. This year, the University of North Dakota took first place and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona captured second. Another longtime rival, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott (Arizona) came in just three points behind the Sky Broncos to take fourth place.
The six-day competition attracted more than 300 pilots from teams representing 28 of the top aviation schools in the nation. Each school earned the right to compete at nationals by winning or placing second in a regional competition. Among the other schools represented at this year’s national championship were the U.S. Air Force Academy; Kent State, Ohio; San Jose State; Southern Illinois University and the universities of Central Missouri and Illinois.
Teams accrue points to determine final standings by having individual team members place in the top slots in the competition’s 11 judged flight and ground events. The Sky Broncos placed second over-all in ground events and sixth in flight events.
“This year’s competition was fierce, with many of our competitor schools really stepping up to the plate,” says Steven W. Tkachuk, head coach for the Sky Broncos. “Our team really put forth a stellar performance, and made it happen for us. With Embry Riddle-Prescott only a few points behind, this really shows that everyone’s effort really helps make the difference. Every last point counts.”
Leading the Sky Broncos in scoring this year was senior Jared Neterer of Mattawan, Mich., who accrued 87 points in six events, making him the third-highest point winner among the competition’s male contestants. He also was named the winner of the Harold S. Wood Award for Excellence, presented to the student who has demonstrated outstanding performance in academics, and service to his or her aviation program, institution and community. The recipient is chosen through a three-step local, regional and national review process, and receives a $1000 cash award and a wooden propeller trophy award. Neterer also tied for the Craig Morrison Award, which is given to the competitor who achieves the highest combined scores in three of the ground events.
Erik McDaniel of Battle Creek, Mich., won the fourth-highest number of points of any male competitor at the event. He was named WMU’s outstanding team member for the competition.
For information: www.wmich.edu/news