Military flyovers at sporting events, like these aircrafts appearing during the National Anthem at a Tigers-Athletics 2012 playoff game, could be a ritual of the past because of looming budget cuts by the federal government. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Military aircrafts that have flown over stadiums during sporting events as part of an American tradition might soon be a ritual of the past if the federal government implements a budget sequestration of $1.2 trillion over 10 years.
According to a USA Today Sports interview with Wendy Varhegyi, chief of the engagement division for Air Force public affairs, the Thunderbirds, which have become a part of the pre-race celebrations for NASCAR races, might be the last of the flyover tradition when the planes take to the skies on March 10 to make an appearance above a NASCAR race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
"The Thunderbirds are expected to stand down effective April 1. (Las Vegas) is pretty much going to be, I think, the last flyover you'll see for a while from us."
In January, a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber flew over the Rose Bowl and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July. The Navy Blue Angels, which have also been a part of the tradition, were scheduled to perform at Navy's graduation in May but would also likely see an end to their appearances over stadiums.
"It's no additional cost to the government for support of any public events. Typically, if you see a unit fly over a football game, that is 90 seconds out of a several hour training sorte that they're flying.''
But she noted that the government would curtail the number of required training hours as part of the proposed budget cuts.
In total, the Air Force conducts approximately 1,000 flyovers each year above sports venues and other events. Varhegyi said the situation would be reevaluated at the end of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.