BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The Super Bowl will have the usual flyover — except it will be anything but normal.
U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight is scheduled to perform the flyover at the start of the game Sunday. The Heritage Flight will consist of one F-16 Fighting Falcon, two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, and one P-51 Mustang flying in formation over U.S. Bank Stadium. This is the first time the Heritage Flight team will conduct a flyover for a Super Bowl, and it will be broadcast live on NBC and in U.S. Bank Stadium from multiple vantage points, including from a camera mounted on the P-51 Mustang.
The teams in the flyover for the game will be the F-16 Viper demonstration team from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina; the A-10 Thunderbolt demonstration team from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona; and a vintage P-51 Mustang from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation in California.
"Never before in my more than 35-year flying career have I flown over the world's biggest sports stage: 111 million eyeballs is quite the audience," says Steve Hinton, who will pilot the P-51. "I'm extremely proud to represent the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation and fly alongside Air Combat Command pilots to honor the countless servicemen and women past and present who selflessly serve our country."
Hinton has logged more than 7,000 flight hours with World War II fighters at air shows all over the world.
"This particular warbird, Sierra Sue II, is one of my favorites to fly," he says, adding he hopes he will be "inspiring a new generation of pilots."
How fast can vintage airplanes fly? At the same speed as current aircraft for the flyover. They will travel in formation at approximate speeds of 315 to 345 mph at an elevation of 1,000 feet above U.S. Bank Stadium.
"The P-51 Mustang is the most iconic fighter plane from World War II and a powerful symbol of the United States' aviation combat history," Hinton explains. "It was a remarkable aircraft during its era, armed with high-caliber machine guns and the ability to carry bombs, rockets and fuel tanks under its wings. By the end of World War II, P-51s had had destroyed almost 5,000 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other fighter in Europe. It's a popular fixture in the Heritage Flight performances."
Flying Sierra Sue II is fitting: In 2015, the plane joined the Wings of the North vintage aircraft collection as the cornerstone of its new museum in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.