Who Pays For Military Flyovers at Sporting Events?

who pays for military flyovers at sporting events

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman had previously joked about military jets flying overhead Raymond James Stadium prior to their Sunday Night NFL call of Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Green Bay Packers game, prompting an email inquiry into whether such flyovers are worth the expense. It has become common practice to see fighter jets or formations of helicopters flyover sporting events and public gatherings across America; such flyovers create great displays of patriotism while offering feel-good moments; however they also come at a cost in terms of crew hours, jet fuel usage as well as coordination of such flyovers arranged ahead of their respective NFL call, making an email inquiry from one reader asking whether the expense justifies its return as a great show of patriotism while also contributing to feel-good moments during such flyovers!

Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps each receive numerous requests for aircraft flyovers at sports events, funerals and other functions. Each service will scramble planes if an event meets specific criteria; they have the authority to decline invitations if their costs for performing it become prohibitive. Last year the Air Force responded to over 3,000 flyover requests; according to one spokesperson it will perform approximately 1000 this year alone; Navy is on course to achieve that number while Marine Corps has already conducted just under 100.

Figuring out who pays for military flyovers can be challenging, as services don’t always openly disclose costs. We reached out to representatives from each branch of the military in order to gather an estimate of aircraft cost per flyover and did our own math; after speaking with each service and doing research of our own we determined that a typical military flyover cost in excess of $10,000.00.

To arrive at an accurate figure, it’s necessary to keep in mind that each event requires precise timing of pilot departure from their base and aircraft flight time and an established holding area. Furthermore, services may have to pay for a forward air controller within the stadium who aids with flight plans; such expenses would come out of their budget, rather than any particular sports team’s pocket.

Many Americans support such displays of patriotism, believing they will boost recruitment efforts and give Americans an opportunity to witness firsthand what the military does firsthand. Others, however, question the costs involved at a time when sequestration has drastically cut services’ budgets.

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