Air Force Daytona 500 Flyby Draws Complaint
Like its recent support of the Super Bowl, the US Air Force also performed a flyby of the “super bowl of NASCAR,” the Daytona 500. As with many similar events, the flyby is timed to coincide with the end of the singing of the national anthem. The roar of jet fighters passing by as the anthem ends is a moving experience for many. As cool as it is, it is poor form to start cheering for the fighters before the anthem is complete, as many in the crowds tend to do.
Interestingly, a comment left on the official Air Force article on this story took issue with the altitude of the flyby. While the writer displays a bit of the fighter vs heavy antagonism (she said a tanker crew had gotten in trouble for doing “the exact same thing” and therefore the fighters should also), her complaint may have some validity. The YouTube videos of the flyby (there are two decent ones here and here) do seem to show the fighters lower than one might expect; that does not automatically mean they were lower than they were allowed to be.
There are rules, and the pilots are held to them. Some might remember the 2008 flyby of Fenway Park, in which an F-16 did not one, but two barrel rolls approaching the stadium. (The YouTube video is fairly clear; includes foul language.) He was grounded.
The Daytona 500 flyby seemed to be professionally flown, and it is not immediately clear that anyone was flaunting any of the rules. If they were too low, it is likely they’ve already heard about it, though the Air Force is unlikely to publicly air that dirty laundry.
The potential reactions to a “simple” motivational and patriotic flyby demonstrate how “under the microscope” everything is in the military, especially as a fighter pilot.