Sunday marks one of the most watched events in the world, the Super Bowl. Super Bowl LII is set to kickoff between the NFC’s Philadelphia Eagles and the AFC’s New England Patriots at the two-year old U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Out of all 52 Super Bowls, there have been military flyovers at 51 of them, with the first Super Bowl being the only game thus far without one. This year, the United States Air Force Heritage Flight Team will perform the Super Bowl flyover for the first time ever.
Included in the flyover will be the P-51 Mustang “Sierra Sue II,” two A-10 Warthogs, and an F-16 Fighting Falcon. The jets are scheduled to arrive Thursday afternoon, and will be based out of a Minnesota-St. Paul Airport for the duration of the weekend. The P-51 Mustang will be based out of Flying Cloud Airport, just about 11 miles southwest of Minneapolis.
Friday morning, the Heritage Flight will take to the skies for a practice flyover of U.S. Bank Stadium, although the time is still to be determined. During this flyover, both the pilots and ground crew will practice with Pink, who will be singing the national anthem, to perfect their time on target. Additionally, they’ll study a map of the local airspace to determine where the formation should be at certain points of reference in the song to ensure an on-time arrival over the stadium.
Contrary to popular belief, the flyover will be at no additional cost to the taxpayer, as flyovers are conducted with previously-allocated flying hours. They serve as time on target training and qualification training for the crew members.
The Aerial Control Team is based out of Joint Base Langley and is the same team that also controls all Air Force flyovers in the complicated Washington D.C. area airspace, including funeral flyovers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon on Sunday will be Major John Waters, F-16 Viper Demo and Heritage Flight Pilot, from Peachtree City, Georgia. Major Dan Levy from Fresno, California and Major Chad Rudolph from Stilwell, Kansas will pilot the two A-10 Warthogs. Finally, Mr. Steve Hinton will pilot the P-51 Mustang and will lead the formation in the flyover.
Sunday’s flyover is scheduled for 5:25 PM, but can shift a minute or two depending on the start of the national anthem. It will be broadcast on NBC, and viewers watching from both inside the stadium and at home will get the unique opportunity to go inside the cockpit of the P-51, as a camera facing backwards will be live-streaming to both the NBC broadcast and the screens inside the stadium. This will provide a clear view of not only Mr. Steve Hinton, pilot of the P-51, but also the two A-10’s and the F-16 on the wings of the Mustang.
Make sure to stay tuned to our social media and website for updates on this weekend’s Super Bowl 52 flyover, and use the hashtags #AFflyover and #HeritageFlight on social media!