Colonel explains absence of flyovers during football games
Sarah Mervosh | Friday, October 2, 2009
Students and fans turned their heads in anticipation during the Star Spangled Banner at the two home football games this year, and expected to see fighter jets zoom over Notre Dame Stadium. But the jets never came.
“First game, I was really excited for it. Then when it didn’t happen I was really disappointed,” sophomore John Ghazi said. “I kind of thought maybe that there was a problem with the first game so I assumed it would be at the next game and then I was angry when they didn’t come for the second game.”
The fighter jets did not fly over the Stadium for the first two games because operational needs took priority for Nevada game, and operational approval was not attained for the Michigan State game, Tri-military Coordinator for Flyovers Lieutenant Colonel Shawn Braue said.
Braue said he had a flyover set up for the Washington game, but it was canceled. He said he was still trying see if another unit can step in, and hopes a flyover will still be possible.
“That’s all you can do. You can’t expect anything. Even the ones I have lined up, there’s no way I can say it’s going to happen,” he said. “Operational needs will take precedence. We’re low on the totem pole.”
Braue said he set up a flyover for every home game this season, and hopes the flyovers will work out for the remaining the home games.
“We should hope for flyovers for the rest of the season but we can never expect them. We have every game scheduled for something,” he said. “So hopefully, knock wood. We’re going to get what we need and what we asked for.”
Braue said fans have come to expect flyovers because Notre Dame has been lucky enough in the past to have requests fulfilled. But every game, every year, flyovers are only a possibility, not a guarantee.
“[The fans] have almost gotten kind of used to it. Most stadiums around the country don’t get them. Notre Dame has been really, really fortunate over the years,” he said. “There are so many things that could happen that would take the flyover way from us.”
For example, if a jet crashes in another part of the country, all other flights might be grounded, Braue said. He also said the economic crisis and the fact that they country is at war could play a role in why fighter jets are harder to obtain this year.
“When a jet crashes or they need a jet to deploy, it shuffles the whole deck. It’s like a whole deck of cards,” he said.
Braue said he did not know how much it cost to fly fighter jets over the Stadium because the units pay for it, and often use it as part of training.
Ghazi said the student body looks forward to the flyovers and hopes they will return.
“Its really cool because it shows how big of a deal Notre Dame football is and how excited everyone is for it,” he said. “I think everyone wants it [to come back].”
Braue said the Navy, Boston College and Connecticut games have flyovers lined up. For the USC game, the Army jump team plans to parachute into the Stadium.
“This year, [for] every game, we had something lined up. Unfortunately, it’s not going as well as we had hoped, but I’m not going to get greedy either or feel bad about that because if we get flyover a year, that’s more than some schools get,” Braue said.