So You Want to Have a Flyover at the Game?
by Tom Beam, F4EHokie, 11/6/02

Ever wonder what was "behind the scenes" in order to have a fly-by at one of our home games? Itís a little more complicated that just picking up the phone and calling a buddy who happens to still be in the Air Force (or Navy), and asking him (or her, these days) to buzz Lane Stadium next Saturday.

Those of us in attendance at the Virginia Tech/Temple game on Oct. 26 were witness to what Will best described as "about the coolest thing I have ever seen Ö the B-2 Stealth Bomber flyover before the game. I've seen fighter jet flyovers, and all sorts of planes, of course, but I don't think I've ever seen anything as weird-looking, menacing, and strangely quiet as that B-2." Click here for the video. And I must agree wholeheartedly with that assessment.

That B-2 flyover, as well as the F-16 flyover the week before, was the culmination of months of work by the Commandantís staff, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets (VTCC), and specifically, Col. "Rock" Roszak, VTCC Ď71, the Deputy Director for Corps Alumni Affairs.

It all began last winter, right after the football schedule was released. The Corps of Cadets leadership, along with the Commandantís staff, sat down to discuss the schedule and decide when to have the annual Corps of Cadets reunion. The Temple game was decided on, and of course, the subject of a flyover came up.

About that time, there was a sidebar article in the Virginia Tech Magazine about a VT alum, Lt. Col Bruce Adams, VTCC í82, who was a B-2 pilot stationed at Whiteman AFB, MO. The commandantís staff contacted the editor of the magazine for more information about Lt. Col. Adams, and Col. Roszak sent him an e-mail and suggested the idea. Therein lies the key to this, or any flyover: establishing contact on the other end, hopefully with a VT alum.

Now it also didnít hurt that the Commandant of Cadets knows the Vice-Wing Commander at Whiteman, or the fact that at least one cadet in the Corps is from a family who is stationed at Whiteman, but the establishment of a true Alum contact is really the key. I am told that several cadets from the Corps have been to Whiteman for an Air Force orientation, and even got a ride in a T-38, the Air Forceís current two seat supersonic trainer. (Itís been around a while; I trained in it in 1974). In any case, the contact was made, and things proceeded forward.

In May, the Commandantís staff filled out a Department of Defense (DD) form, requesting "flyover support for an event," specifically pregame activities at the Temple game. Since this was to be a "non aviation related event," it required more justification than usual, and required a special wavier. This turned out not to be a problem due to the tie-in with the Corps of Cadets reunion, and the special presentation of the Corps of Cadets alumni who have attained the rank of 1 star (flag officer) and above during the pregame activities.

The DD form was first forwarded to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Richmond for approval. It was returned, stamped approved, and then was sent to the Secretary of the Air Forceís (SAF) Office for Aerial Events. This is where the special wavier for a non aviation event was granted. Now since the B-2, as you can imagine, is considered a "High Value Asset," coordination through Air Combat Command (ACC), headquartered at Langley AFB, Va., was also required, since the B-2 is assigned to ACC.

The time frame is now late August or so, and Col. Roszak is busy keeping the communication lines open with Lt. Col. Adams, Langley, and the SAF Office for Aerial Events. Finally, the event is approved, and is posted on the SAF web site. An officer point of contact (POC) is named at Whiteman, and he, Lt. Col. Adams, and Col. Roszak work out the final details.

At this point, the only unknown is something near and dear to our hearts, namely game time. Lt. Col Adams was in Blacksburg to discuss things with Col. Roszak the Monday before the Rutgers game, coinciding with the announcement of game time.

Once the game time was announced, then final preparations were made. In coordination with the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, a press release was prepared and sent out. Coordination with Roanoke Approach Control, Washington Center, and other Air Traffic Control (ATC) facilities that will be affected by the flyover was initiated. This included such things as GPS coordinates, radio frequencies, hold points and timing of the pass, and many more.

Two days prior to the event, an advance team consisting of two officers from Whiteman AFB arrived in Blacksburg. One of the team members was Maj. Joe Conrad, VTCC í82. They attended the Highty Tighties practice on Friday night, to get down the timing for the fly-by on Saturday. They were also given special passes which allowed them access to the roof of the press box, where they communicated with Lt. Col. Adams.

Well, you know the rest. Game day dawns and the Hokie faithful begin tailgating. Lt. Col. Adams takes off from Whiteman AFB, MO, heads eastbound, arrives on time, and we all get goose bumps. What an awesome sight that was!!! An interesting side note: the B-2 was scheduled to leave Blacksburg and proceed to do another flyover at New Orleans Naval Air Station, but that was cancelled en route due to thunderstorms, so it returned to Whiteman AFB.

As you can see, it took a lot of work, and a lot of time, from a lot of people to give us that 30 seconds or so of ooohs and ahhhs we experienced prior to the Temple game. And I for one, want to thank them all!

God Bless America and Go Hokies!

F4EHokie

 

TSLX Home

Copyright © 2002 Maroon Pride, LLC