MINNEAPOLIS — The power of the United States Air Force’s Heritage Flight will soar above the frozen tundra surrounding U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday in the minutes prior to kick-off of Super Bowl LII.
One F-16 Fighting Falcon from Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina; two A-10C Thunderbolt IIs from Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona; and a P-51 Mustang nicknamed Sierra Sue II of the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, will come together to fly in a diamond formation to represent the Heritage Flight.
“We are fortunate enough to be able to represent the professionalism and dedication of our Air Force to millions of spectators across the globe,” F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander Maj. John Waters said on Wednesday. “I think everyone is excited to see flyovers. To be flying in formation with a P-51 and two A-10s across the biggest game in football is hard to top in my opinion.”
The concept of the Heritage Flight was developed and first flown in 1997 as a way for Airmen to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Air Force. Today, the Heritage Flight has become a crowd favorite at nearly every air show across America, and continues to grow in popularity.
For two decades, the Heritage Flight has honored “the sacrifices of those who have served or are currently serving in the Air Force through participation in these flight displays,” said Senior Airman Betty Chevalier.
Veteran A-10 pilot Major Chad Rudolph will fly one of the two Warthogs on Sunday.
“This fly over flight is more than just a simple high-speed pass over a professional sports stadium,” Major Rudolph. “This flight is a representation of the Air Force’s dedication to preserving the past of those that have executed the same missions long before us. For the A-10, this flight is especially symbolic of the men and women who have stood by the world’s only dedicated close air support airframe in order to continue its legacy in fiscally constrained times.”
During 2018, the A-10 Demo Team will perform at 20 air shows for the first time in seven years demonstrating the capabilities of the A-10C “Warthog”. The F-16 Viper Demo Team will visit no fewer than 16 show sites across 2018 in the U.S. and Canada.
“The F-16 demo team is important because it allows us to go out there and interact with the comunity,” Maj. Waters added. “It allows the comunity to get up close and personal to their Air Force and their Department of Defense, and to see the people that are defending their nation and the freedoms that we love.”
P-51D Mustang pilot Steve Hinton will lead the four aircraft flyover. The aircraft Sierra Sue II is an actual 1944 warbird which served in the European Theater for the Army Air Force.
The iconic fighter is owned by Wings of the North Air Museum located southwest of Minneapolis. The museum explained this Mustang includes “working World War II era radios and full armor plating among other authentic details”.
Super Bowl attendees inside U.S. Bank Stadium will likely see a portion of the maneuver through the stadium’s closed, translucent roof with large glass wall panels as the national anthem concludes at about 5:27 p.m. CST.
The fly over will occur a few minutes after official sunset making this a twilight flight. The weather outlook at the time of the fly over will be clear skies and frigid at 5 degrees F.
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and science. Follow his updates on social media via @Military_Flight.)