WAUKESHA COUNTY — On any given day, Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Matt Knight covers a lot ground. The Waukesha native has been a member of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for two years. He’s logged thousands of miles on the road, and usually works solo, but on a sunny spring morning, Trooper Knight had help from above.
“This would be my second time I’ve actually done it,” said Knight.
Circling a few thousand feet about I-94 in Waukesha County was Wisconsin State Patrol Inspector Derek Schuette.
“I’ve been flying since roughly 1994. I went to flight school for the Army, and learned to fly helicopters,” said Schuette.
The veteran pilot wasn’t flying a helicopter though. He was manning a Cessna Skyhawk — a small, four-seat, high-wing, single-engine plane.
Together, Trooper Knight and Inspector Schuette were working to slow down speeders during an “air patrol enforcement.” It’s simple really. Lines mark the highway 660 feet apart, and using a system developed in the 1970s, Schuette was able to calculate the speed of drivers below. From his vantage point, the pilot could easily spot bad behavior.
“You can really see aggressive driving,” said Schuette.
Operating during the morning commute, the two got to work. It didn’t take long to find drivers exceeding the 70 miles-per-hour speed limit.
“OK, I’ve got a white SUV, 83 miles-per-hour at 11:04,” said Schuette over his radio, communicating with the waiting troopers below.
Trooper Knight was one of four in a queue ready to roll into action at Schuette’s direction.
“Start your roll. It’s in lane one. It’s on your left…in three, two, one,” said Schuette.
Trooper Knight began his pursuit, turning on his lights and initiating a stop. The speeding vehicle quickly and safely pulled to the side of the road and Trooper Knight approached the car’s passenger side.
“Do you realize how fast you’re going?” Knight asked the driver.
This type of special enforcement happens regularly throughout the state, and if you’re wondering, the fastest time Inspector Schuette has ever clocked a driver is 114 miles-per-hour!
“That was over on Highway 43 in Walworth County,” said Schuette.
Back on the ground, Trooper Knight finished his traffic stop.
“It’s going to be a citation of $76 and six points against your license,” said Knight.
State Patrol officials sometimes announce these aerial enforcement initiatives ahead of time, to give drivers a heads up that troopers are watching. CLICK HERE to learn more.