Newsletter #7 | News
Wings of Destiny Fly over the Super Bowl
US Army, February 04, 2014 - NEWBURGH, N.Y. by Sgt. Duncan Brennan, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade - Crew chiefs from 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault,) guided UH-60, Black Hawk, and CH-47, Chinook, helicopters over the Super Bowl at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Feb. 2, 2014.
The crew chiefs were part of a detachment of soldiers conducting the flyover after the national anthem.
In normal flight, the helicopters fly spaced far enough apart so that the wind created by the main rotors of each aircraft do not interfere with the flight of the other helicopters in the formation. Flying in close quarters requires a lot of concentration on the controls by the pilot and co pilot. It falls on the crew chiefs to relay to the pilot if they are getting too close to the other aircraft to assist in maintaining their position within the formation.
I had to make sure that we were centered on the lead Apache, said Sgt. Patricia Fowler, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief, B Company, 5th Battalion, 101st CAB, Lancers. I had to lean out the side of the aircraft and make sure that not only were we centered on the lead Apache, but I had to make sure that the other Apaches left enough space for my aircraft to fit safely between them.
To keep the pilots safely in position requires constant vigilance throughout the flight. The crew chief not only has to keep an eye on the aircraft to the front, but also has to keep an eye on the helicopters behind so that there are multiple eyes on the spacing.
“You have a triangle scan,” said Fowler. You have to look forward of the aircraft, out to the sides and then behind to make sure you know where you are among the other members of the formation. It's tiring, but you've got so much adrenaline going at the time that you don't always notice it.”
On an event like this, the work doesn't begin once the helicopters have lifted off and are on their way to the destination. The crew chiefs put in countless hours preparing the aircraft and making sure they are fit to fly.
“Flying is not the bulk of our work,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Mize, standardization instructor, B Company, 6th Battalion, 101st CAB, Pachyderms. “Most of our work is done before. On the Chinooks, the crew preps the aircraft, get it inspected and make sure it's ready to fly.”
Even with all of the work that went into preparing for the flyover, the crew chiefs shared in the sense of satisfaction. The men and women who help the Wings of Destiny fly, flying over the Super Bowl was an unforgettable experience.
“When we flew over the stadium,” said Mize. “I thought I was going to wake up. When we were over the stadium and saw the fans looking up at us, it was just surreal. In my 14 years in the Army, I've spent all but 22 months of it at the 101st. Being able to represent the 101st Airborne, and making us look good as I've been told by my chain of command, It's satisfying.”
After long hours of rehearsals in the bitter cold, the success of the Super Bowl flyover is incredibly sweet for everyone involved. For the crews, this was truly a rendezvous with destiny.
“We were so low that we could see the looks on people's faces,” said Fowler. “We could see the singer's face and Peyton Manning. Their faces looked between joy and total awe, it was amazing. We could even hear the roar of the crowd over the helicopter. I feel incredible that I was chosen to be a part of this.”
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US Army Aviation