By Martha H. Shad
Sheboygan Press staff
If the pilot hadn’t “kicked up the noise,” a B-2 stealth bomber probably would have passed
overhead unseen Saturday thanks to the extensive fog that shrouded the waterfront for most of
“The ceiling is 1,000 feet and visibility is one-quarter of a mile,” Navy Lt. Ron Roen relayed
to B-2 bomber pilot Air Force Capt. David Thompson.
“Could you make some noise so we could at least hear you if we can’t see you?” Roen asked.
Thompson’s response came from the northeastern portion of the sky; a low growl that increased
to a moderate roar as the cloud-cloaked jet streaked overhead and a thrilled audience applauded
Thompson and co-pilot Capt. Shawn Cotton were returning to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri,
home to the 509th Bomb Wing, the only Air Force unit to use the Stealth bomber. Earlier in the
day, the pair had been in Washington, D.C., as part of an air show in celebration of Armed
Services Week, Roen said.
Sheboygan was fortunate to be visited by such a distinguished guest, particularly given the
miserable weather over the lake. Saturday’s fly-over request was one of 30 the base received
and one of only three granted, Roen said.
Thompson flew one mission during the recently ended war on Iraq. On the second night of
bombing, he flew his B-2 bomber, loaded to capacity with 16 bombs, he said over the plane’s
He declined to give specifics on far above the targets he was, saying only that he was at
“high altitude over Iraq.”
When asked if it was difficult to fly the B-2 than to drive a car, Thompson said “You could
train a monkey to do it, with enough bananas.”
For many, his fly-by was no doubt the highlight of the day. It also marked the first piercing
of the skies Saturday as the Rockets for Schools launching was delayed several hours waiting
for the wind-driven fog to lift.
Scheduled to start at 9 a.m., the first rocket wasn’t launched until nearly 2 p.m. Barely an
hour later the launchings were halted due to the unrelenting fog, leaving five class-one
rockets unfired, according to Randy Lutz, who along with his wife Carol, coordinated the
The nine larger rockets, which could reach 5,000 feet, were not launched, according to Bob
Justus, a member of the Tripoli Rocket Assoc. chapter in the Kenosha area.
Still, students said they learned a lot.
“I think this is interesting,” said Joshua Taylor, a 10th-grader at Lynde and Harry Bradley
Technology and Trade School in Milwaukee.
His team’s rocket was one of the first six launched. The payload in their rocket was an
altimeter to measure altitude, a barometer to measure pressure and an accelerometer to measure
speed and distance, according to the team’s coach and ROTC instructor Maj. James Wagner.
The class-one rocket that Chelsea Heller and Brittany Mertens, both ninth-graders at Green Bay
South Western High School, helped build didn’t get launched. They’ll have to wait for another
time to find learn what light and temperature information the computer-based laboratory will
Students who didn’t get to launch their rockets have the option of either holding them for next
year or launching them during the summer at Bong Recreational Park in Kenosha where Tripoli
holds its launches each summer, said Carol Lutz.
Rockets were judged in three areas; fit and finish, payload and the student’s presentation.
Winners in the class-one rocket category were: first place, Fond du Lac Home Schools; second place,
Sheboygan’s Christ Child Academy; third place, River Bluff Middle School in Stoughton. Winners
in the class-two category were: first place, Fond du Lac High School; second place, Columbus
High; third place, Sheboygan’s Riverview Alternative School, Carol Lutz said.
Reach Martha H. Shad at email@example.com and 453-5167.
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