Orientation Flight Fuels B-2 Bomber and Cadet's Pilot Goal

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Armando Vasquez
  • 108th Wing Public Affairs Office
It's not unusual for a child to dream of becoming an airplane pilot when he grows up. And when that child grows up in a military family, the dream becomes more intense.

Nick Strittmatter, 19, a Barnegat, N.J. resident, grew up in a military family: His father, Lt. Col. Martin Strittmatter, is a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot with the 108th Wing and a commercial airline pilot with United Continental. So obviously the young Strittmatter knew he wanted to become a pilot, just like his father.

"I never pushed him towards the military," said Martin Strittmatter. "He's been around the military all his life. It was a decision he made all on his own."

Nick Strittmatter had thought about going to the Air Force Academy at Boulder, Co., but he was not sure of that path. Since his father went to the Academy and had experienced the military environment of the college, he knew that was not his plan. "I wanted to experience college life," said Nick Strittmatter.

So as Nick Strittmatter researched colleges to attend, his father introduced him to the ROTC concept and now he is a cadet at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Pa., Air Force ROTC program.

Orientation flights are the Air Force's community relations program that provides individuals an opportunity to observe Airmen perform their jobs in a real-world environment. The flights are intended to motivate and educate Air Force cadets about the Air Force and its mission.

Consequently, Cadet Strittmatter, a sophomore, and 24 of his fellow cadets were invited to the 108th Wing's orientation flight April 2. At this event, the cadets got the unique opportunity to observe the aircrew refuel a B-2 Stealth Bomber out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., mid-air over the skies of Alabama.

At this air refueling mission, Martin Strittmatter was the pilot and his son, Nick, sat in the jump seat and listened and observed the interaction between the pilots, boom operator, and air control.

As each cadet was given the opportunity to go into the KC-135's cockpit and/or the boom pod when the B-2 Bomber approached the aircraft, their eyes lid-up in disbelief at how close the two aircrafts came.

For the young Strittmatter, it only reinforced his desire to become a pilot.