February 2, 2018

Flyovers: A uniquely American tradition

Bob Alvis
special to Aerotech News

I stood in the middle of the street some years ago in Lancaster, as the local Veterans Day Parade was about to get underway and the power to get it rolling was in my right hand. After a year-long dream of mine and the help of many good people, the pride of America was about to make its presence known to the hundreds that were lining Lancaster Boulevard on that cold November morning.

It was 10 o’clock straight up. I pushed the button on the radio and said, “The airspace is all yours, Steve – make us proud!” From the west, an F-16 and a P-38 flying wingtip to wingtip passed over the giant American flag at 10th Street West and Lancaster Boulevard, heading east. All eyes turned to the sky to behold this incredible sight. With a return loop and another pass to the west, the streets filled with the sound of applause and shouts of Americans who understood the importance of what they had just witnessed.

Flyovers hold a special place in the hearts of military veterans, but they are also events that stir the hearts and souls of patriotic Americans who never put on a uniform. People want to be part of something greater than self and in America, we take pride in our sporting events and parades that are like nothing else in the world. Who we are is put on display and the struggles of our nation for centuries to overcome adversity on the world stage are manifested through the playing of our National Anthem; the representation of our military on the field with a color guard, and in the skies overhead with our aviation heritage.


This year’s Super Bowl will continue that tradition, as this year’s flyover will be like none other before. To all generations, it will have a special meaning that will cross the divide of time, as the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight team will be doing the honors. With an F-16 and two A-10s in formation, the presence of a P-51 Mustang leading the way will likely have young people asking questions, those that never took the time to study our history scratching their heads, and the broadcasters referring to their scripts, as the aircraft pass over to punctuate the opening ceremony. The cheers and applause will be loud and for a brief moment Americans will stand as one in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We’ll be sending a message that we as a country have done the heavy lifting for generations and that freedom requires a sacrifice. It’s our families and fellow citizens that have carried that burden when called upon, and learned the meaning of the word sacrifice firsthand in service to our country.

For years I have worked air shows and events that have had special moments that were uniquely their own, with opening ceremonies or a remembrance heritage flight of special aircraft from all branches of the military. These ceremonies unite generations of people as they rise to their feet, giving the respectful gestures that our nation and its people deserve. Sometimes I’ve stood with the crowds, and many times I’ve faced the crowd. It’s when facing them and seeing the tears and the pride of our everyday citizens on display for the whole world to see that I remember America is not just about me. It’s about all of us and the special citizens that served in past generations and those that serve today, who make it possible to gather freely at a uniquely American event in peace and enjoy a simple game.

This week and every week, stand and thank a veteran, enjoy your country and all it represents, and until next time I salute you all and thank you for your patriotism! Bob out …

The P-51 named Sierra Sue II shown above during WW II and being represented with this restored P-51 in remembrance of Sierra Sue II, will be the plane flown by Steve Hinton at this year’s Superbowl with two A-10 Thunderbolt II’s and one F-16 Fighting Falcon

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