Military Fly Overs

At some events, such as NASCAR races, the Navy or Air Force performs fly overs. Anyone know who pays for them?

taxpayers through funds for that service

Some expenses may be paid by the event organizer in some circumstances, but flyovers are generally counted as training missions, and the costs usually come out of the training budget.

Their purpose isn’t just for entertainment. It’s a show of military strength.

While the flyovers are paid for out of the training budget, they are scheduled through the service’s department of public relations (whatever that branch’s office happens to be called). It’s a chance for that branch of the military to do a bit of self-promotion. They inspire patriotism, and often serve a useful purpose in recruitment. Young men and women are often inspired to join the services by flyovers and other demonstrations of military strength.

A bit of self-promotion also doesn’t hurt when trying to obtain funding. Which military is the one that is more likely to get funding, the one that stays behind the scenes and the folks in charge aren’t really sure what they do, or the one that demonstrates their might every weekend at sporting events by showing off their best weapons?

The flyovers should probably have a big chunk of their budgets taken out of public relations and recruiting, instead of having it all shoved into their training budgets.

You had me right up until:

The demonstration teams do not fly the “best” (aircraft), and although they remain combat coded for various reasons, are not anywhere close to a weapons-ready status. Most civilians’ airborne weapons paradigm is bombs, but since those come from planes, I suppose the connotation applies. In any event, the demonstration teams fly fighters, not bombers. Of course fighters can and do perform bombing missions, but it is not typically their primary role in a given battle plan.

I believe the primary motivational inspiration coming from the aerial demo teams is the pilot’s skill and daring displayed in the performance, and in turn the dedication it takes to reach that level.

This is the simple, correct answer, BTW.

According to this PDF, the US Air Force Thunderbirds can be rendered combat-ready in three days’ time. The same is reportedly true for the US Navy Blue Angels.

[Bolding Mine]

I may have misunderstood you but I’ve seen the B2 bomber fly over my house on the way to this game in January 2018.

Que to 2:22

They do fulfill a training purpose on multiple fronts.
The pilots need a certain number of hours of flight to maintain currency requirements. The trip to/from takes care of that.

They need to practice “time on target,” so that they fly over at the right moment. They do have a ground controller working with them to make sure they hit a small window during the National Anthem performance, but often they are traveling fair distances (navigation practice) to make this time.
Add to the recruiting benefits, the “flag wave rah-rah,” and show of power, it’s money well spent IMO. I know I’ll be in the minority on this board though.

To directly address the OP:

Pilots need flight hours to maintain certification. They will literally fly in circles for hours at a time just so they can log the necessary “flight time” for that month. Asking an aircraft to fly over a stadium at a certain time isn’t asking for anything, really. They have already budgeted the flight time and the expense, so there is no additional cost to the taxpayer.

To answer more broadly, the military has its own advertising budget. They pay for things like TV ads, video games, and NASCAR sponsorships. The military needs high-quality candidates to join, and they know they are competing with corporate America and other government agencies to recruit their candidates.

That’s a long time when something like that is needed for combat. Of course other platforms like the big bombers make flyovers and the Army’s jump team is all included in this category. Whether or not a B-2 for example, gets a flyover assignment depends mostly on very tricky scheduling and is therefore, a fairly rare occurrence. I only mention the Flying Teams because that is their primary mission.

Moderator Note

Please refrain from political commentary in General Questions. No warning issued, but stick to the topic in the OP.

General Questions Moderator

:dubious: I would hope our military planners have enough foresight to anticipate a potential need for these planes more than three days in advance.

The pilots are the valuable resource.

But in general these activities are considered recruitment activities and a cost of doing business.

I don’t specifically deny that’s true but I think it’s fairly obviously a nominal policy adopted to fend off potential criticism that the teams are a luxury. I suppose in theory all the operational tactical a/c sdns of the USAF and USN are combat ready on a moments notice. But if even the great majority bulk of US tactical squadrons were truly within only months of complete (peer opponent) combat readiness that would be pretty good, it’s doubtful that’s anywhere near the case at the moment. Realistically the issue isn’t a few demonstration team a/c which would take a ‘whole’ 3 days to be combat ready.

But also the demonstration teams at the moment have relatively old a/c, F-16C Block 52’s with IIRC 91 or 92 tail numbers (the fiscal year of authorization of purchase) and Lot 11 F/A-18C’s from around the same time. It’s not as if hours and g’s are being put on the newest a/c. There will probably be more grumbling about that when the Navy a/c are replaced by new F/A-18E/F’s as planned in a few years, and when/if the AF ones are replaced by F-35’s.

Yes, but the Thunderbirds have been flying F-16s (of one variant or another) since 1983, and the Blue Angels have been in F/A-18s since 1986. If they seem out-of-date I think it’s just because we happen to be having this discussion at a time when they’re not quite ready to switch to something newer.

I’ve seen at least a dozen flyovers at KC Chiefs games, mostly coming from nearby Whitman AF Base. I’ve seen B1’s, B2’s, F117’s F15’s, 16’s, 18’s, 22’s and A-10’s during the last home game and a while ago even a flock of AH-64 Apaches and a herd of Chinooks. I’ve never seen an actual demonstration team, might have missed them once or twice but a majority of the flyovers have been anything but.

A US military pilot needs to fly for 4 hours a month to qualify for flight pay.