While many families, friends and football fans gather to watch Super Bowl LII, members of the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight is scheduled to visit Minnesota to represent the Air Force during the event.
The Heritage Flight will perform a flyover, consisting of two A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, one F-16 Fighting Falcon, and a P-51 Mustang, over U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis during the opening ceremonies for the Super Bowl, February 4, for the first time in its history.
“We are fortunate enough to be able to represent the professionalism and dedication of our Air Force to millions of spectators across the globe,” said Maj. John Waters, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander. “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 F-16 Viper Demo Team, from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, the A-10C Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team, from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, and a P-51 Mustang form the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation in California, will all be representing the Air Force in the Heritage Flight.
For one of the A-10 pilots, this flyover will be his last official flight as Heritage Flight pilot.
“It is bittersweet knowing that this will likely be the last time I am able to fly in formation with such historic airframes,” said Maj. Chad Rudolph, A-10 Heritage Flight pilot, “However, knowing that this will be my last time to fly with such skilled aviators in the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation will make this flight more sentimental.”
In addition to the event being the last flight for one team member, this will be the first event for the F-16 Viper Demo Team superintendent. Even more impactful to him, he is returning to his home state.
Master Sgt. Chris Schneider was born outside of Minneapolis and grew up two hours northwest of the city in Alexandria, where he lived until the age of six. Although he moved, he visited almost every summer, eventually relocating back to Alexandria at the age of 14. He graduated from Jefferson High School and then joined the Air Force in 1998.
“It is an amazing feeling any time I get to go back to my home state, but I am absolutely ecstatic and humbled to be a part of this team that will going up to Minneapolis for this very unique flyover formation,” Schneider said.
The U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight Program presents the evolution of Air Force air power by flying today’s state-of-the-art fighter aircraft in close formation with vintage aircraft, dramatically displays Air Force history, and proudly supports our Air Force’s recruiting and retention efforts. As part of the Heritage Flight program, the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation honors the sacrifices of those who have served or are currently serving in the Air Force through participation in these flight displays.
“This flyover flight is more than just a simple high-speed pass over a professional sports stadium,” said 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.”