(U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

More stadium flyovers. But where are the pilots?

Air Force lifts flyover limits for sporting events

March 12, 2018 - 12:23 pm

The Super Bowl.  The World Series.  And just a few weeks ago, the NHL's Outdoor Stadium Series between the Washington Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs, held at the Naval Academy.

Ear-ripping, mouth agape military flyovers.  

Vets love 'em.  But the civilians - well, they eat it up because they don't get to see our fire power very often.

The Air Force has lifted the limits on stadium flyovers and air show events, opening the door for better spectacle and greater recruiting efforts.  The Air Force has emerged from a DoD spending cap that reduced the amount of flying time Air Force pilots were allowed in the air, thus allowing more flyovers.  According to a report by Stars and Stripes, the  Air Force’s “2018 Aerial Events Policy” lifts the limits, and will allow for more training missions.  More training missions means more stadium flyovers, because stadium flyovers are rolled into training missions.

It's a win, win.

It's a win for recruiters because more training missions and more flyovers mean that the Air Force may recruit more pilots.  Truth is, there is an Air Force pilot shortage, mostly because the civilian and corporate world offers more options and higher salaries.  Last fall, the Air Force reported they were short 2000 pilots, and they'd offer one to two year extensions to current pilots with a $35,000 signing bonus. But the DoD knows they can't outbid the private sector, so the Air Force is hoping that this change of direction with the flyovers will create a recruiting tool for new pilots-to-be.

A huge recruiting tool: air shows.  Recruiting numbers increase at air shows and the days after.

The new policy allows up to four jets in each flyover, but eliminates the number of jets or equipment used on the ground.  Read that: more recruiting on the ground.