Adams Co. family reflects on 50th anniversary of Sputnik crash - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Adams Co. family reflects on 50th anniversary of Sputnik crash

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New Rome (WAOW) -

Fifty years ago Sept. 5th the Soviet satellite Sputnik fell from the sky.

After two years revolving around the planet, it re-entered the atmosphere over the Wisconsin Northwoods before slamming into North Eighth Street in Manitowoc, Wis.

Though the crash was big news nationwide, it was monumental to the Gevers family of Wisconsin. 

"My Dad was part of it and that was just so special," Nancy Plecha of Big Flats told Newsline 9. 

Plecha knows the story well.  So does her brother Gary Gevers of New Rome and her sister Kathy Noyes of Big Flats.  That's because their father was the man called to determine what had fallen from the sky. 

"You were learning about this in school at the same time, and to all of a sudden there you are a part of it, it was so exciting!  I could not wait to go to school and tell my teacher that my dad was part of the history of the United States" Plecha said smiling. 

Gevers was a metal expert who happened to be in Manitowoc the day the largest pieces of the satellite crashed in Wisconsin.  He was able to decipher the object was made of two types of metals.  Further analysis found a screw inside it made using the metric system.  All signs pointed to Sputnik. 

Half a century has passed since their father helped identify the unique piece of space history.  But they say the excitement stays with them to this day. 

"I came home from school and Mom says Dad's going to be on TV!  Well the next day I went and told everyone in school to watch TV to see my Dad" Noyes said.

"We're all very proud of our Dad, just for being Dad and who he was and how hard he worked and for him to have fifteen minutes of fame was very special for all us kids" Gevers said.  

And those fifteen minutes of fame, have become fifty years of history.

The city of Manitowoc remembers its place in space history with an annual festival called Sputnikfest.  It takes place at the same site the satellite crashed back to Earth in front of the Rahr-West Art Museum, 610 N. Eighth St., Manitowoc.  

This year's festival is Sat. Sept. 8th starting at noon.  Activities include a "cosmic cake" baking competition, alien pet contest, Ms. Space Debris pageant, raffles, puppet show and live music.  

For more information follow this link to the Rahr-West Art Museum: http://www.manitowoc.org/index.aspx?nid=1109. 

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