A Super Flyover
A Super Flyover … Story and photos by Joe Kates, additional photos by Scott Plummer Photorecon was invited to attend the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation.
Photorecon was invited to attend the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation media day leading up to the Super Bowl LVI game day flyover.
The U.S. Air Force performs close to 1,000 flyovers a year, which serve as a way to showcase the capabilities of its aircraft while also inspiring patriotism and future generations of aviation enthusiasts. These flyovers are done at no additional cost to the taxpayer and serve as time-over-target training for Air Force pilots, aircrew and ground control teams.
The flyover is a Super Bowl ritual spanning more than half a century. This type of flyover is also a tradition at many other sporting events and academy graduations. When all those graduation caps fly the jets are right above in the sky. as the last notes of the National Anthem echoed across the field.”And The Home Of The Brave………” the perfectly timed flyover of the stadium takes place. So precise, it all seems that simple?
Time On Target or TOT was a phrase we heard a lot that day, as the coordination of the event was being practiced.
Time On Target is the military co-ordination of many weapons systems so that all the munitions, or assets arrive at the target at precisely the same time. The military standard is plus or minus three seconds from the prescribed time of impact. Now take into account the events at the stadium, one error in the presenter of the anthem and the whole flyover will be off time? No stress at all right?
Weather that be surgically placing a JDAM down an exhaust stack on a building, or arriving on perfect time over the biggest sporting event of the year. That’s what they are trained to do.
This Super Bowl fly over was special in so many ways, This year marks the 75th anniversary of the United States Air Force, Steve Hinton, who’s spent the last 25 years flying aircraft with the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight team. Will be conducting his final Heritage Flight.
For the first time in history, the Air Force will have a 5-plane formation consisting of legendary planes.
The flight includes five historic and important U.S. military fighters and attack aircraft:
• P-51D Mustang, based at POF Chino, California
• A-10 Thunderbolt II—aka “Warthog”—based at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona
• F-22 Raptor, based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia
• F-35 Lightning II, based at Hill AFB, Utah
• F-16 Fighting Falcon, aka “Viper,” based at Shaw AFB, South Carolina
This event was a great opportunity to met all the Demonstration team pilots, introduce ourselves and talk shop. Photorecon is very proud to produce some of the finest aviation lithographs available. Dave Budd was very busy in the weeks leading up to the event. He produces all 4 demo teams a custom lithograph, that we were able to present to the pilots and have a few signed for our office as well.
One of the highlight for me was Steve Hinton waling up and saying “hey I know you guys” that led to spending over 45 minutes uninterrupted chatting with Steve Hinton about everything from his early days at Planes Of Fame, Racing at Reno and his opinions on everything from world events to the future of air shows in general. The highlight for Dave was when Hinton asked him to climb up on We Willy and help him install the canopy, that was removes the previous day for some maintenance. It’s not often you get a chance to assist a legend of aviation just out of the blue like that. Dave also presented Steve with a pack of lithographs featuring all 4 jet demo teams he would be leading his final heritage flight over Super Bowl LVI.
All eyes were on Steve and the media was very interested in this fixture of the world of war birds. Steve was quoted at one interview saying.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this elite group. The demonstration teams are made up of our finest aviators, not that they’re any better than the rest of them, but they represent our armed forces well, and in my experience with them for the last 25 years, I’m so proud to be a part of that.”
“This is one way to present taxpayers with what the Air Force has, their abilities. It, of course, only scratches the surface, but these are amazing pilots and amazing equipment that the United States Air Force has. Their capabilities are hard to even describe.”
“To me that’s what’s so impressive being able to show the taxpayers, show the mom and dad and the kids growing up that they’d be proud of what we have in the United States,”
“I love my job, I love what I get to do and I love being available for these kinds of events. I still pinch myself all the time. It’s hard to believe that I still get to do this stuff.”
While speaking with him he informed us he is not done yet. At 70 he will be jumping ship to the NAVY. The USN legacy flights schedule and its more flexible age restriction limit, works better for him moving forward. He will now help honor the Navy legacy at events, while continuing to work at the museum and film projects.
His other plans involve expanding the Planes of Fame Museum from Chino, CA to Santa Maria, CA in the coming years.
This being a fly over for Super Bowl LVI, the Media day features visits by former NFL stars, team mascots and cheerleaders. They were escorted around to meet the demo pilots, see the jets and learn the mission of the USAF.
One Former Player was NFL Hall -of -Famer Kurt Warner. Warner got to get the ride of a lifetime. Air Force Captain Aimee “Rebel” Fielder. Warner Suited up in what was an abbreviated egress training. Normal egress training can the better part of a day to cover for an incentive flight.
As he walked to the aircraft with a fighter pilot swagger, he looked the part, albeit the silver beard he was sporting in his retirement from the NFL.
After strapping in and a cockpit briefing by “Rebel” the canopy closed and the ‘Comeback Kid ‘ was rocketing into the air for his flight of a lifetime. He was airborne for about an hour experiencing all the Viper can do. After he returned he climbed down thanked “Rebel” and the crew for the amazing opportunity.
The media started with the questions about his flight and how it went? to that he responded.
“Well I didn’t have to use the bag, but if we had stayed up there any longer, I probably would have!” When asked what call sign she would give Warner, “Rebel” Fielder joked that maybe it should be “Mercy” because he was begging for it in the back seat. Warner chuckled and did not argue with that.
Warner also had an opportunity to meet and greet the pilots taking part in the flyover.
A spectacular ending to a day that started with spectacular non cluttered ramp access for some amazing sunrise shots of all the aircraft. We took home a real sense of pride in the mission of the USAF Heritage Flight Team and how they represent the best Air Force in the world, honoring the men and women who built that over 75 years and those who gave all.
Oh yea: As most of the viewing world saw They made “TOT”
Time Over Target with perfect precision. What else would you expect?