Air Force

July 13, 2012

729th AS sets Air Force 4th of July flyover record

Overcomes weather and traffic congestion challenges

Tags:
by Staff Sgt. Megan Crusher
452 AMW public affairs

Lt. Col. Tim Harris, pilot, 729th Airlift Squadron, is pictured as he pilots the massive C-17 Globemaster III, over Big Bear during the aircraft’s 16 flyovers performed in support of Fourth of July celebrations held throughout southern California, July 4.

A single March Air Reserve Base C-17 Globemaster III crew went above and beyond the call of duty when they performed a jaw-dropping 16 flyovers in a single sortie throughout southern California in celebration of the 236th birthday of the United States of America, July 4.

The 729th AS has been conducting flyovers for the past six years, with Lt. Col. Tim Harris flying the mission the last five years. He explained that when he first started, supporting four flyovers was a big deal. The majority of requests were left unfulfilled because the demand was too great. This year, every request was supported, except one because that particular venue wanted a smaller jet.

Performing a whopping 16 flyovers in 2012 compared to four in 2006, was perpetuated by the knowledge and continuity Harris brings to the table. Because of the many years of experience he has gained through flying, he knows which route yields the best results.

“I’m benefitting a lot from having done this before, so I know this particular ground track works and it de-conflicts itself with other things,” said Harris. “We fly this route, because it takes us around the trouble areas and we’re avoiding the tight airspaces.”

There were additional challenges the crew had to contend with besides avoiding the countless congested areas, the biggest being the weather.

“I’ve never had an issue with the weather on the Fourth of July before, but this time we had a real problem with it for the first three flyovers,” said Harris.

“The ceiling was at about 1500 feet, so we had to fly just below them in order to get visual confirmation of our route of flight.”

After passing through the beach areas, the weather issues subsided, but resurfaced with more storms in Big Bear. Fortunately, the crew was able to avoid major obstacles.

Lt. Col. Tim Harris conducts a series of flyovers around Southern Calif., during 4th of July celebrations. The mission had to be flown with exact timing and precision because several flyover points were skillfully coordinated to have the aircraft pass over just as the National Anthem ended.

Missions are typically flown in accordance with instrument flight rules, however, this particular mission was flown with visual flight rules. The difference between the flight rules is the pilots are responsible for staying clear of other aircraft when using VFR and when using IFR, air traffic controllers assume that responsibility.

A factor that made flying VFR difficult, was the extremely bright sun blazing in the crew’s eyes. They had to visually locate small jets and helicopters in and around the southern California basin to avoid collision. The crew worked seamless together to identify smaller aircraft and avoid them with no problems.

In addition to staying on the lookout for small aircraft, the crew marveled at all of the people on the ground looking up and flashing their cameras, as the C-17 flew over the various event locations, ranging from the Huntington Beach boardwalk to the Rose Bowl to beautiful Big Bear.

“There must have been 40 or 50 thousand in Ontario alone and to have a C-17 fly over their event, really gave the event a boost, said Harris. “We’re pretty used to seeing our aircraft here, but outside of March ARB, having one of our jet’s fly over is pretty special.”

That sentiment was re-enforced when footage of the C-17 flying over the celebrations was uploaded to YouTube within 24 hours of the mission from folks who witnessed the flyovers first hand.

“It was so cool to see this enormous aircraft flying so low, right over the ocean and in my city to celebrate our country’s independence, said Huntington Beach resident Brenda Hendricksen. “I was very impressed.”

Approximately 400,000 people throughout southern California witnessed the agile cargo jet fly over southern California.

The 729th AS supports, on average, approximately 35-45 flyovers a year, with roughly 10 each on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, 15 on the Fourth of July and a handful flown for military funerals or in support of airshows.




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


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Noelle Reyes

Massage therapy relaxes members during UTA

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Noelle Reyes Massage therapy students from The American College of Healthcare (ACH), Riverside, give complimentary massages to Team March members during a June 2015 Unit Training Assembly. As ...
 
 

Celebrate National Parents’ Day 2015

Yes, you read the headline correctly. There is such a thing as National Parents’ Day. It is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Sunday of July, which happens to be this coming Sunday. This holiday was established in 1994 when former President Bill Clinton signed a Congressional Resolution into Law (36 U.S.C. § 135) for...
 
 

Last chance to design airshow poster

March Air Reserve Base is holding a design contest for the “March Field AirFest 2016: Thunder Over the Empire” poster. Everyone is eligible to enter. The winning designer will receive a 2016 AirFest package for a family of four. The package includes VIP parking for one vehicle (excluding RVs); four tickets to the pre-show dinner...
 

 
CAP

Civil Air Patrol’s California Wing encampment

As the summer season kicks into high gear, the Civil Air Patrol’s California Wing celebrated its annual Cadet Encampment, and the 40th Anniversary of the Cadet Training Group, at Camp San Luis Obispo, California, July 1st thr...
 
 
Kids-Toddler-Pool-Safety-Clipart

Summer swimming safety tips

With summer in full swing it is good to review swimming safety tips. Knowing water safety rules, current water conditions and your swimming abilities could be the difference between life and death. Swim with a buddy in designat...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay

Mental health resources available for those in need

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay Considering the demands facing the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise, Creech Air Force Base, Nev., has formed their own Human Performance Team to meet the needs of those supp...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>