Super Bowl flyover highlights amount public pays for training

Thursday, February 10th, 2011 By


F18 flyovers cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars but are dual-purpose missions. Image: Flickr / russwalker / CC-BY

The Super Bowl flyover has been a tradition for many years. This year’s Super Bowl flyover of five Navy F-18s is estimated to have cost taxpayers $450,000. The Navy points out that these flyovers are training missions, but some question the amount spent to fly over sporting events.

Cost estimates for Super Bowl flyover

The flyover for Super Bowl XLV used Navy F-18s that traveled from Virgina Beach, Va., to Cowboys Stadium in Texas. Though the ceremony has become traditional, the spectators for this Super Bowl flyover saw it only on screens because the retractable roof on the football stadium was closed. The Department of Defense estimates that this five-plane, one-minute flyover cost taxpayers about $450,000. The U.S. Navy confirms that the fuel alone for the trip cost about $109,000.

Dual purpose for flyovers

The U.S. Military undertakes flyovers at a wide variety of sporting events. Each year, the Air Force and Navy receive more than 3,000 requests for flyovers and approve fewer than 900 of them. Both the Navy and Air Force take the cost of these flyovers out of their training budgets. The airtime is used to train pilots in navigation, formation flying and for in-air experience. Both military branches also consider these flyovers to be recruiting events, though there are “precision squadrons,” such as the Blue Angels, that are specifically used for performance and recruiting.

Was the Super Bowl flyover a waste?

There are many questioning whether the Super Bowl flyover was a waste of taxpayer money. Keeping a military aircraft in the air can cost up to $150,000 per hour, depending on the craft. Pilots do need training time and experience to prepare before being sent to conflict areas. Still, many question whether these flyovers are the best use of training time and budget. What do you think about the Super Bowl flyover? Is it a good dual-use public spectacle of training dollars or a waste of taxpayer money?



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