Monday, January 29, 2018

Air Force Prepares Heritage Flyover for Super Bowl

By Air Force Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier 355th Fighter Wing

The Air Force’s Heritage Flight is scheduled to visit Minnesota to represent the Air Force Feb. 4 at the Super Bowl.

For the first time in the unit’s history, the Heritage Flight will perform an aircraft flyover -- consisting of two A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, an F-16 Fighting Falcon and a P-51 Mustang -- over U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis during the Super Bowl’s opening ceremonies.

The U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight Program presents the evolution of Air Force air power by flying state-of-the-art fighter aircraft in close formation with vintage aircraft to display Air Force history to support Air Force recruiting and retention efforts.

Representing the Air Force

“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 Air Force 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, based here; and a P-51 Mustang from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation in California, will represent the Air Force in the Heritage Flight.

For one of the A-10 pilots, this flyover will be his last official Heritage Flight.

“It is bittersweet knowing that this will likely be the last time I am able to fly in formation with such historic airframes,” said Air Force Maj. Chad Rudolph. “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, who is returning to his home state for the event.

Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Schneider was born near Minneapolis and grew up two hours northwest of the city in Alexandria, where he lived until age 6. Although he moved, he visited almost every summer, eventually relocating back to Alexandria at 14. He graduated from Jefferson High School and then joined the Air Force in 1998.

Part of the Team

“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.

As part of the Heritage Flight program, the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation honors the sacrifices of those who have served or are now serving in the Air Force through participation in flight displays.
“This flyover flight is more than just a simple high-speed pass over a professional sports stadium,” Rudolph said. “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.”

Weather Forecasters Contribute to Mission Success

By Air Force Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer 27th Special Operations Wing

When Air Force pilots based here prepare for flight, they need the help of 27th Special Operations Support Squadron weather forecasters to contribute to their safety and mission success.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Klein, 27th SOSS weather forecaster, is one of those airmen who unlock the weather-related puzzle.

“We provide forecasts for the local area, as well as [other parts of] New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Texas,” Klein said. “We also do resource protection. That way, if any bad weather is inbound on our location, we can alert units around base to ensure equipment doesn’t get damaged.”

Weather forecasters here work alongside pilots, using the latest technology to predict weather patterns, prepare forecasts and communicate weather information to pilots so every mission can be carried out.


“It helps that we work so close with aircraft crews,” Klein said. “[In my previous bases], we didn’t get too much face time with them. Here at Cannon, we’re interacting with each other much more, and that’s convenient for the pilots. We can provide verbal briefings quickly for the aircrews.”

This constant communication is necessary in an environment as unique as eastern New Mexico, where dangerous weather conditions can pop up quickly, Klein said.

“[Wildfire] weather is a particular danger in the local area,” he explained. “We have to remain cautious and vigilant on live-fire exercises at Melrose Air Force Range due to how dry the weather can be.”

Quickly moving wildfires are a danger throughout the state. According to the New Mexico Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department, about 118,000 acres were burned by wildfires in 2016, higher than the national average of 108,000 that year.

Tricky Weather Patterns

A cause for this can also be explained by a collision of weather fronts that presents a challenge to all weather forecasters across the state, especially Cannon’s, Klein said.

“We’re on what we call a dry line,” he explained. “It’s a unique feature to this part of the world. We get the front from the Gulf Coast pushing moisture west and the southwest front pushing dry air east, and where the two constantly collide is within the vicinity of Cannon. It’s a danger to our pilots. We need to always be on the lookout for around late spring and early summer.”

This combination of a high-pace mission and high-risk weather presents a challenge to weather forecasters like Klein, but it doesn’t come without its enjoyable aspects, he said.
“The job is something different for me,” he said. “Everyone thinks weather is entirely unpredictable, but we know how to find those subtle clues in forecasting. I like the challenge of that. It’s sort of a puzzle to me.”