Few things can make a football stadium roar with excitement like a precision military flyover. During the pregame ceremonies, the power of a jet engine can be felt as much as it is heard. Sports fans all over the United States are gearing up for Super Bowl Sunday and so are the pilots that will be conducting this year’s flyover in Glendale, Ariz.
The Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s Aerial Demonstration Team, will be flying over the University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday, according to a Luke Air Force Base press release. The Thunderbirds are known for their aerobatics and iconic red, white, and blue F-16s.
Arizona’s skies have been quite busy as excitement builds up to this Sunday’s game. On Jan. 25 the first ever F-35 flyover kicked off the Pro Bowl game, also held in the University of Phoenix Stadium. The four F-35s are apart of Luke AFB’s 61st Fighter Squadron. You can check out a video of the flyover here.
Planning and executing a flyover is complex. It certainly is a challenge to arrive at a specific place at a specific moment, but military pilots have to do this all the time. Because of this, according to ESPN, the military uses stadium flyovers as a training exercise and usually pays for the flyby themselves.
Not all of the flying on Sunday will be for show. Other military aircraft will be on station for security purposes. The Arizona Air National Guard is accompanying the North American Aerospace Defense Command along with other local, state and federal agencies to protect the Super Bowl. Air space above and around the stadium will be watched carefully, said 2nd Lt. Lacey Roberts of the 162nd Wing in Tucson, Ariz.
The Federal Aviation Administration will establish a 30-nautical-mile-radius temporary flight restriction over the venue from 3:25 p.m. until midnight on game day. As a precaution, Guard fighters will be readily available to help enforce it.
The military has been protecting the skies and providing air support for the Super Bowl since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Thunderbirds, you can check out this video to get a taste of what will be buzzing the crowds on Sunday.