Private Fighter Jet Flyover
January 3, 2011 6:20 PM   Subscribe

Can I arrange for/purchase a jet fighter flyover for my event?

Let's assume I had enough money and an outdoor event that could benefit from a jet fighter flyover - could I get it done? Any idea how much this type of thing costs?

Also of interest is knowing how professional sporting event organizers are able to arrange these flyovers. Professional sports teams are private businesses, aren't they? Do they pay? Do they need special permission from the government? I'm assuming that these fighter jets are all military owned and operated.
posted by shew to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There's at least one civilian jet demo team who will fly over your event for an unspecified fee-- if you're within 150 miles of the SF Bay Area. They're the Patriots Jet Team, flying restored L-39s. If you want actual US F-whatevers, your options may be more limited, unless you are, say, Michael Bay and can just phone up the Feds for a favor.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:27 PM on January 3, 2011

(By which I mean, a big sporting event, Fleet Week, the next Transformers movie, what have you-- those are recruiting opportunities. The Feds like recruiting opportunities. Your event may or may not have the same cachet.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:28 PM on January 3, 2011

Response by poster: I want the military jets. More specifically, I want to know why my money isn't as green as the owner of a professional sports team or the promoter of a hollywood movie. Seriously, is there a division of the Air Force that makes these subjective decisions? How can I contact them? :)
posted by shew at 6:36 PM on January 3, 2011

I live in an air force town. Never had a ringside seat on the organizing process, but I've been in a few events (outdoor orchestra concerts) that got - flown over. They also do it for our local baseball games (AA ball, 4th of July)

A few factors - YAMMV (Your Aeronautical Miles May Vary)...

Are you really, really close to a USAF, Navy, or Marine base with suitable aircraft? Guard/reserve counts too; the National Guard and Reserves actually constitute a lot of our fighter forces. I think the odds would greatly increase with proximity and greatly decrease if they have to burn a lot of avgas just getting to you.

Is the event around July 4 or some other significant date for the military (like Memorial Day)?

Does your event have any sort of public/municipal spin to it? There can be for-profit or private non-profit organizations involved, but is it part of a city's annual festival or the like? For example, our outdoor orchestra concert is the kick-off to our city's annual music festival.

Perhaps most important, does anyone on your team have good connections to the local military? Is there a way to get your local mayor to do the asking?

I would be surprised if you could pay them to influence them to do the flyover, if it doesn't otherwise seem like a good fit for them. It is hella expensive to get 3 or 4 jets off the ground, even for a little while, and there is of course always a certain amount of risk (they take those risks every day, but if a pilot ends up punching out and splashing an aircraft because of the Taco Bell Peanut Festival, it may raise more questions than if it's the city's July 4 celebration).

My educated guess is that, as has been stated, their main interest in doing them is to:

- promote partnership between the military and the local community.
- promote the military from a recruiting standpoint.
- provide a way to give pilots some hours (this is a weak argument, but it is true that they need to take the planes up and do stuff to get hours and test training, and if they can get a flyover in while doing it, that makes it seem like less of a direct expense to the government).
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:41 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

A big part of the professional sports exchange is the publicity for the military. It's worth a lot, too, because a huge chunk of their target market is sitting right there with gaping mouths.

The amount you'd have to pay them to compensate for this loss of opportunity for televised publicity probably wouldn't be insignificant, if they'd even talk about it.

But hey, worth a try.
posted by circular at 6:41 PM on January 3, 2011

There's the Thunderbirds. But their performances are scheduled years in advance.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:43 PM on January 3, 2011

I found this page from the Government Printing Office, which has an example of a form to fill out to request participation of U.S. Navy aircraft (e.g. the Blue Angels, etc.) at events. It also lists some of the kinds of events in which they will participate:

Events which are appropriate for aviation participation include:
Dedication of airports; aviation shows; aircraft exposition; air fairs;
recruiting programs; civic events which contribute to the public
knowledge of naval aviation equipment and capabilities and to the
advancement of general aviation; public observances of certain national
holidays (Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence
Day); national conventions of major veterans organizations; memorial
services for deceased, nationally recognized dignitaries; and receptions
for foreign dignitaries.

posted by amyms at 6:49 PM on January 3, 2011

Response by poster: My google foo is no longer failing me. Found this site:

U.S. Air Force Aerial Events

Lots of great info including a request form! One exerpt:

Air Force aerial support events generally fall into two categories: Aviation/Patriotic Holiday-related and Non-Aviation-related.

Requests for off-base flyovers will be considered only for aviation-related events (i.e., air shows, airport anniversaries or dedications) or for patriotic observances held in conjunction with formal observances, open to the public, on Armed Forces Day (third Saturday in May), Memorial Day (last Monday in May), Independence Day (July 4), Prisoner Of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day (third Friday in September), and Veterans Day (November 11 ) when held within seven days of the holiday date. This does not mean that you can request a flyover for an event on July 2nd, justifying its eligibility because it falls within seven days on one of the DoD-approved holidays. As a reminder, all sporting events require Air Force Public Affairs exception-to-policy approval regardless of the date. All other events that do not meet DoD eligibility criteria may possibly be considered as exceptions-to-policy events for one-time-only events provided there is sufficient rationale.

Aviation support that may be requested includes static display aircraft, a flyover, an aerial demonstration or a parachute team performance. An authorized flyover is a straight and level flight, limited to one pass, by no more than four military aircraft of the same general type (e.g., tactical, transport, rotary wing) from the same military Service over a predetermined point on the ground at a specific time and not involving aerobatics or demonstrations.

Aerial demonstrations are reserved for air shows only and will not be performed over other public events.

Thanks all.
posted by shew at 6:51 PM on January 3, 2011

I feel your pain. I wanted to get married next to the SR-71 in the Udvar-Hazy Museum but they don't do weddings and birthday parties.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:51 PM on January 3, 2011

It costs about $10,000 per hour to fly an F-15. F-16's are about $5000 per hour.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:54 PM on January 3, 2011

Here's a Request For Military Aerial Support [pdf] for event organizers to fill out. It's the most current form (October 2010) and it covers aviation teams from the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
posted by amyms at 6:56 PM on January 3, 2011

I want the military jets.
well, you could not afford them but Russia has some teams for hire.
posted by clavdivs at 9:03 PM on January 3, 2011

or there is this site for your budget. If you can fly one, you can fly it yourself or hire a pilot.
posted by clavdivs at 9:09 PM on January 3, 2011

Also, it's not always about money changing hands. The military will let people hang out with the hardware for certain purposes if those things serve a larger recruiting interest/ they're doing a friend of a highly-connected friend a favor/ etc. It happens in VFX work, it's bound to happen in other contexts.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:51 PM on January 3, 2011

Does it have to be the latest say f-15? There are many private people and companies who have migs and other older jets that might fly over.
posted by majortom1981 at 7:12 AM on January 4, 2011

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