Air Force

February 20, 2015
 

Flyovers: Sight, sound of freedom

Airman Pedro Mota
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(U.S. Air Force photo by Timothy Boyer)
A four-ship formation of F-35 Lightning IIs perform the first-ever F-35 flyover Jan. 24 over University of Phoenix Stadium during the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Pro Bowl.

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — They are breathtaking, flawless and can cause the viewer to have goosebumps. They look easy, but, according to those who perform them, flyovers take training, skill and precise decisions to execute.

The most recent flown in the area was the Super Bowl flyover, where the Thunderbirds, officially known as the U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron, passed over the University of Phoenix Stadium in a Delta formation, a tight six-aircraft V formation.

In a typical flyover, after the specific location is chosen, the pilots are given a general way of getting in and out of the area, usually arriving within 10 to 15 minutes, with a specific speed and altitude determined by Air Force operational and public event regulations.

“Aircraft avionics give the pilot the necessary information to reach the target at specific time,” Artiges said. “For instance, this particular flyover had to come at the end of the national anthem, at the right moment, to make a better impact on the crowd.”

Because every singer has their own timing and unique finish to the national anthem, a pilot is placed at the event to coordinate the timing of the pilots to fly over precisely at the end of the song. Knowing the location of the jets, the pilot at the event instructs the formation of jets to slow or increase their speed, so they arrive with exact timing.

“It’s a matter of being on time when you’re flying this type of flyover,” Artiges said. “The type of aircraft and formation plays an important role as well.”

The most common F-16 flyover is called the four-ship fingertip formation, while the Thunderbirds present six-ship formations.

Along with pilots, the maintainers play an important role in accomplishing a flyover. They’re given a schedule telling them when the pilots will arrive and the time the jets need to be ready and postured. Once the jet is ready, the maintainers must execute the take-off sequence in a timely manner, avoiding late takeoffs or ground aborts.

“The biggest thing is teamwork,” said Master Sgt. James Yount, 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-35 lead production superintendent. “The pilots are able to execute the mission well with all the information they’re given, while the maintainers work together with operations to ensure the event is executed on time. It requires a lot of time and patience to execute a flyover perfectly.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by Airman Frankie D. Moore

355th MDOS hosts first annual Suicide Prevention Week

Air Force photograph by Airman Frankie D. Moore Capt. Teresa Thompson, 355th Medical Operations Squadron Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager, talks to an individual about mental awareness during the ...
 
 

Boeing, Cathay Pacific to donate world’s 1st 777 to Aviation Museum

Boeing and Cathay Pacific announced today that they are donating the first-ever Boeing 777 airplane to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Arizona, one of the world’s largest facilities devoted to celebrating aerospace. The iconic airplane (line number WA001 and registered B-HNL) flew from Cathay Pacific’s home airport in Hong Kong to Tucson, Arizona...
 
 
Air National Guard photograph by Staff Sgt. George Keck

Arizona Air National Guard’s first deployment in 31 years

Air National Guard photograph by Staff Sgt. George Keck Staff Sgt. Luke Arandules, a 195th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, Arizona Air National Guard, performs a final inspection for debris around the intake of an F-16 Fi...