Stadium flyovers: How they work at Alabama football games

Alabama followers cannot get sufficient of gameday traditions from pregame tailgating to singing “Rammer Jammer” after one other Crimson Tide win.

But the stadium flyover moments earlier than kickoff is climbing the charts for Bryant-Denny Stadium rituals it’s essential to cross off your faculty football bucket record.

As you may think, every flyover carried out by varied navy branches, comes with plenty of preparation earlier than you see, hear and really feel that whoosh overhead that provides you a heavy dose of patriotism and jump-starts an unforgettable stadium ambiance.

Morgan James, an assistant athletics director for advertising and marketing and fan growth at UA, coordinates every gameday flyover.

He took us behind the scenes, revealing the thorough logistical planning and precision required every time.

The planning course of for flyovers really begins round June and July earlier than every season.

UA should file paperwork for every occasion/recreation (Request for Military Support), which they submit on-line for approval. Once the paperwork is accepted for every recreation, navy items can attain out to the UA level of contact to e book a particular recreation.

Once the flyover crew is booked for a particular recreation, UA works with them on recreation specifics that embody flyover time, plus departure and arrival airport(s), recreation tickets, in-game recognition and any further approvals or paperwork that could be wanted.

James mentioned solely two of the 2022 season’s flight crews requested a “rehearsal.”

Some wish to get “a lay of the land” the day earlier than the sport, whereas others wish to talk about any and all particulars they have to know earlier than they execute the occasion.

“In my expertise this 12 months the vast majority of the crews that volunteer to do these flyovers have finished flyovers earlier than and do not essentially want a rehearsal however simply the timing logistics of once we need them to fly over the stadium,” James mentioned.

The 2022 season can have had 4 flyovers with flight crews from throughout the US

The crews work with native air bases or airports based mostly on their jets to find out the place they can take off and land, James mentioned.

“We have had flight crews take off and land at Columbus, Miss., in addition to land in Birmingham,” he mentioned. “To my data, it actually is determined by the flight crew and their communication with native air bases and FAA.”

How do they decide which sort of plane will carry out the flyover?

When UA submits the Request for Military Support paperwork at the start of the method, they request a Fixed Wing Jet, after which it is determined by the flight crew that volunteers for every recreation and what their squadron flies.

Timing up the flyover might be the toughest a part of the entire course of, James mentioned. “We all the time attempt to have the flyover at the top of the nationwide anthem, however generally we have now to regulate based mostly on the foundations and laws round flight instances. Flight crews can’t fly after sundown or nightfall. “We have a pre-game timing sheet the place every part is timed out and we attempt to get every pre-game factor to the precise second.”

While they have all of it timed out, exterior elements throughout pregame can have an effect on the timing. Prior to the jets taking off from their location, UA communicates when the flyover is meant to happen in actual time.

There are two flight crew members on the bottom, one within the manufacturing sales space and one at the highest of the stadium which can be speaking with the pilots in actual time to inform them if the timing of the flyover has modified.

“There is a sure level the place the grounds crew and pilots can now not discuss and the jets will fly over the stadium irrespective of the place we’re at in timing,” James mentioned.

For Austin Peay final week the forty ninth Fighter Training Squadron carried out the flyover. For the Iron Bowl, which kicks off at 2:30 pm in Bryant-Denny Stadium, you may see the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115.

Each recreation, previous to the nationwide anthem and flyover, UA honors a service member as a flag recipient and thanks them for his or her service to our nation.

“It’s an vital custom to honor our courageous women and men who serve in our navy,” James mentioned. “After the flag recipient and nationwide anthem, the flyover is an effective way to cap off this pageantry and excite our followers for our nation, our service members and Alabama football.”

(Story continues beneath the photograph)

The 391st Fighter Squadron flight crew with Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne (middle) after the Bryant-Denny Stadium flyover earlier than Alabama’s recreation in opposition to Texas A&M Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. Pictured left to proper: Capt. Kyle “STING” Bybee, Capt. William “CRIPT” O’Donnell, Huntsville native Capt. Tyler “HYPE” Lannom, Capt. Sean “ATLAS” O’Shea, Byrne, UA graduate Capt. Austin “ASSAULT” Starks, Capt. Josh “SPEAR” Bezold, Lt. Col. Eric “SLAYER” Joachim, Capt. Tim “BAC’N” Rohan and Capt. Justin “FADED” Hall. (Courtesy of The 391st Fighter Squadron)

After a number of flyovers, you might have seen some flight crew members unzipping the highest of their fits to disclose a crimson and white T-shirt. Turns out, a number of pilots have UA ties and a hand in making these particular moments occur.

Capt. Austin Starks, a US Air Force weapons techniques officer (WSO) and UA graduate, participated within the Texas A&M flyover Oct. 8.

He contacted UA to request to do the flyover earlier than they decided the date that labored greatest for each events, as he accomplished all Air Force necessities and waivers.

Flying from Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, the 391st Fighter Squadron flight crew would want to discover a close by base, plus inns, rental vehicles and tanker help to assist them journey.

Once Starks picked the crew members, he additionally organized for upkeep help down South and developed a recreation plan for the place the planes would maintain within the air outdoors the stadium.

“The flyover itself is fairly scripted,” Starks mentioned, noting that they should keep a sure altitude all through the flight. They coordinate the time with UA advertising and marketing, organize for personnel with radios contained in the stadium to ensure it is nonetheless a go and to know when to depart the maintain level.

The Texas A&M flyover was a little bit totally different in that it was not a nationwide anthem flyover, as a result of timing of that day’s sundown. The crew just isn’t legally allowed to carry out PR occasions after “civil twilight,” so the 7 pm kickoff (as a result of CBS primetime tv slot), they needed to bump it as much as 6:25 pm

Starks, a Baton Rouge native who attended UA in 2013-2017 (graduated with a level in aerospace engineering) is a weapons techniques workplace within the two-seater fighter jet, on this case the F-15 E Strike Eagles (much like what you see in “Top Gun” motion pictures).

Beyond his personal tie to UA, his entrance seat pilot was Huntsville native Capt. Tyler Lannom.

“I knew it was going to be actually cool,” Starks mentioned about flying over his alma mater.

He mentioned the flyover was an concerned expertise, continuously checking their timing, coordination, pace and altitude.

As a WSO throughout flights like these, he’s a security observer making certain the planes are all secure and authorized whereas placing on a present for followers. He mentioned whereas the flight itself was enjoyable, being inside Bryant-Denny Stadium made it that a lot better.

“When we obtained on to the sector, it was surreal. That’s the one factor I can say about it,” he mentioned. “It was the good evening of my life for certain.”

And whereas UA acknowledges every flight crew within the north finish zone throughout a timeout after that recreation’s flyover, Starks mentioned he and the crew deal with it as extra of a tribute to retired navy members and their very own households.

It’s additionally a tribute to the “red-blooded Americans” having fun with the present.

“Just the sound of afterburners hyping individuals up, all that energy, all that noise, understanding we have 1,000 instances that able to go. It’s a cool show, too. Being on the bottom, seeing a handful of jets like that flying over. It will get individuals excited and makes individuals really feel secure.”

Starks mentioned he had the possibility to tailgate on campus along with his household earlier than the sport.

But, with about three hours to go earlier than kickoff, he and the crew made the 80-minute drive to Meridian the place they parked their jets earlier than flying again to Tuscaloosa in simply 10 minutes.

He mentioned the jets held within the air for about 20 minutes earlier than they obtained their cue and repositioned and executed the flyover within the span of about 5 minutes. After one other 10-minute flight again to Meridian, they spent about 45 minutes within the air in complete.

The 2022 season’s flyovers:

Texas A&M – Air Combat Command 391st Fighter Squadron – Mountain Home Airforce Base, Mountain Home, Idaho

Mississippi State – 58th Fighter Squadron – Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Austin Peay – forty ninth Fighter Training Squadron – Columbus Air Force Base, Columbus, Miss.

Auburn – Marine Fighter Squadron one hundred and fifteenth – Beaufort, SC

Stadium Flyover

The 391st Fighter Squadron’s F-15 E Strike Eagles through the Bryant-Denny Stadium flyover earlier than Alabama’s recreation in opposition to Texas A&M Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. (Courtesy of The 391st Fighter Squadron)

Stadium Flyover

The 391st Fighter Squadron’s view through the Bryant-Denny Stadium flyover earlier than Alabama’s recreation in opposition to Texas A&M Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. (Courtesy of The 391st Fighter Squadron)

Alabama Football: LSU 2021

The pregame flyover earlier than Alabama’s recreation in opposition to LSU in Bryant Denny Stadium Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. The Crimson Tide received 20-14. (Ben Flanagan/AL.com)

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