Jet fighters roaring overhead before an American sporting event are an iconic part of American sports culture, delighting audiences. There’s something special about seeing Navy F-18 or Air Force B-2 bombers streak overhead during the national anthem or formations of helicopters welcoming an NFL player onto the field; but who pays for these flyovers, and at what cost?
Requests for military flyovers don’t pose too many hurdles for teams or leagues, though requests must go through the branch of service that their team belongs to. Once this request has been approved by the FAA (which it usually is), teams or leagues should contact squadrons within their branch that could potentially offer flyovers.
When considering whether to conduct a flyover, squadrons must consider various factors, including stadium size and seating capacity, recruiting benefits, attendance estimates and media coverage of an event. They will also consider whether it can fit into existing training missions while selecting which planes from their inventory to use – anything from fighter jets to helicopters is welcome in a flyover and the military doesn’t favor one over another!
At Jacksonville Jaguars owner Tom Wisenbaugh has made it his mission to secure a flyover at each home game this season, but his efforts came at a price: He recently revealed to Orlando Sentinel that he spent more than $60,000. for two Navy Blue Angels flights this season over their stadium before two Monday night games this season.
But Wisenbaugh points out that the Blue Angels were flying so low over the stadium’s closed roof that no one in it could see them, with TV viewers likely only being able to spot an apparition or blur on screen. Although not military grandstanding per se, taxpayers still shouldn’t accept such extravagant displays from an organization paying millions annually in athlete wages and stadium costs.
Orlando Sentinel decided to investigate who pays for military flyovers. While the military deducts costs from their training budget, teams or leagues that requested flights may have to cover some pilot lodging and meal costs as part of the deal. Air Force, Navy and Marine personnel benefit greatly from this arrangement: good PR as well as training hours that they would have spent anyway – reminding everyone how Americans all contribute toward paying for our nation’s facilities together.