FIRST founder, Dean Kamen, flies in B-2 Spirit At Whiteman AFB maintained by FIRST alumni

Founder of FIRST flies in an Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bomber to kick-off 2016 Championship week

WHITEMAN AFB, Mo.--()--The Air Force announced today that Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST®, has been given a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to fly in a B-2 Spirit bomber and experience the Air Force’s cutting edge innovation and technology first hand on April 26th.

WHO/WHAT: Kamen’s B-2 flight at Whiteman AFB marks the Opening of the 2016 FIRST Robotics World Championship in St. Louis.

WHERE: At Whiteman AFB, Kamen will also meet with two FIRST alumni, now Air Force maintainers, who keep the B-2 flying and mission ready every day. The maintainers, 2nd Lt. Ben Petry and Staff Sgt. Stephan Kuipers, lead specialized teams to meet the B-2’s unique systems, structural and programing challenges.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 26th, 12:30-2:30 p.m. Central

CONTACT: Media and photographers wishing to attend, please reach out to the Point of Contact (POC): Erin Ranaweera, 1st Lt USAF AETC AFRS/PA - phone (913) 544-3418; or email
by April 19.

About 2nd Lt. Ben Petry (FIRST Alum):

  • Petry is a maintenance officer assigned to the 509th Maintenance Squadron’s (MXS) Aerospace Ground Equipment shop;
  • Petry leads more than 80 Airmen who maintain equipment systems such as generators, hydraulic systems and lift trucks, which support B-2 maintenance and ultimately keep it flying; and
  • Petry’s Airmen provide comprehensive equipment maintenance including structural, engine and circuitry troubleshooting and repair. Understanding engineering theory and how systems works together is an essential part of their jobs.

Staff Sgt. Stephan Kuipers (FIRST Alum):

  • Kuipers is a 509th MXS crew chief shift lead, responsible for supervising and training up to eight Airmen who help maintain all 19 B-2 Spirit bombers at Whiteman AFB. Crew chiefs ensure the B-2 is flight-ready. From inspection to issue identification and resolution, they follow a strict process. Kuipers and his team are the first to inspect the B-2 after landing and the last to check the aircraft before takeoff. Therefore, attention to detail is paramount.
  • Kuipers also mentors the FIRST® Robotics Competition ‘Team Bronco Bots’ from Lee’s Summit, Mo., during his off-duty time. This year, under his mentorship, the team is headed to the 2016 FIRST Championship in St. Louis. Austin Ahern, the current high school build team leader, for Team Bronco Bots’ has been accepted to the Air Force Academy and will start this June.

About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $25 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to

About the U.S. Air Force

The mission of the U.S. Air Force is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace. For 2016, the Air Force Recruiting Service is hiring approximately 32,000 new Airmen. An emphasis is on recruiting people with no prior military service into one of about 140 enlisted career opportunities. The Air Force recruits to retain, recruiting the brightest candidates possible, then providing tough, highly-technical training that instills the right skills to deliver Airpower for America’s Air Force. For more information about Air Force benefits and opportunities, go to


Erin Ranaweera, 913-544-3418

Release Summary

Media Alert: FIRST founder, Dean Kamen, flies in B-2 Spirit At Whiteman AFB maintained by FIRST alumni


Erin Ranaweera, 913-544-3418