Are Boilermaker Air Force Flyovers Back For Good?
For the 2019 Boilermaker, whether you were physically at the Saranac Brewery or not you were treated to a rare spectacle that our area hasn't seen in a decade since the 174th Attack Wing stopped flying F16s out of Syracuse. The buzz hasn't stopped both because military flyovers in general are just cool and also because one of the pilots from yesterday's flyover is a Utica native and the event likely wouldn't have taken place without him.
You'll remember when sequestration hit which put some budget crunches on the Air Force back in 2013 and while those constraints have long been lifted, the Air Force only recently started allowing stadium flyovers again last year. This set the stage for F16 instructor pilot, Nick Hanna who grew up in Utica but now hails from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico to start the conversation with Boilermaker brass about the return of the flyover. He says as a young boy, he too was inspired by watching the jets fly over and wanted to inspire other would-be jet pilots in town.
The good news is the Air Force largely foots the bill for exercises like this because most flyovers are normally rolled into a cross-country training missions for the pilots. The bad news is that the pilots are then essentially volunteers which means we're at the mercy of their flying schedules and aircraft demands at their home base. While Senator Griffo has been petitioning the Air Force for years for the return of the flyover at the Boilermaker, it looks like he'll have to keep teaming up with Nick and his squadron commander to make this happen for 2020's race and beyond.