Saturday, October 9, 2010

NFL flyover - a personal story

All of us Lemoore folks may find this interesting and familiar because we grew up around jets flying overhead everyday.  It's really an amazing sight.  The video clip is interesting but the story below it is much more so.  Enjoy.

The following is written by my dad, Huey L'Herault.  A thrilling story!

I sure wish that YOUTUBE had the video of my "flyby" (flyTHROUGH) of Kansas City stadium in the opening game there against the Dolphins and the Chiefs in 1972. The enclosed video is in later years. Leading 4 Attack Squadron 25 Navy A7's on that day in '72 was pretty special. We arrived at Forbes AFB in Witchita,KS the day before since Richards Gebaur AFB in KC was closed for runway repairs. The Chiefs picked us at in their turboprop, flew us back to KC, set us up in a hotel, gave us cars and had us as guests at a "Redcoats" function the prior evening. On Sunday morning they flew us back to Forbes to prepare for the event and had the plane set up to retrieve us so as to make the last half of the game as spectators. The pubicity director of the Chiefs was a good friend of my right wingman, Lt Don Roesch, who had received the flyover request and simply came back to Naval Airstation Lemoore and asked the squdron CO if we could do it. We cleared it through Commander Light Attack Wing Pacific, located at NAS Lemoore and who's operating senior, an old wizzended Navy Captain and golf friend, threatened me with bodily harm if we violated any Federal Aviation Administration regs during the event. As you may know the military were pretty much "persona non grata" upon return from Vietnam and we had just done so from USS Ranger.

I had given the publicity director a "survival radio" upon which to give us an 8 minute call and a 4 minute call for our arrival atop the stadium with a pullup of #2 man crossing the scoreboard in salute to the POW's. In advance we, as required, had published a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) for ALL aircraft to remain clear of 5 miles of Arrowhead Stadium during the hour of the event. The Publicity Director had also provided Federal Aviation reps terrific 50 yard line seats for the game. Circling overhead we could look down and see the absolute logjam of cars, not moving, as they approached the stadium to the unsuccessful first day handling of lots of traffic. On the field was a huge musical group decked out in Revolutionary Army garb who were to play the National Anthem. I got the 8 minute call and got us set of for the 4 minute checkpoint leading to the overflight.

The plan was to come down over the city, tighten up REALLY close, and as we passed over the scoreboard I was to call "3, 2, 1, PULL" and my right wingman was to pull straight up abruptly as the "missing man". Accelerating downhill to cross Arrowhead around 400 knots (we had no afterburners to light to provided any nice added noise) and somewhere in the vicinity of minimum authorized altitude I caught out of the corner of my left eye an old open cockpit Stearman biplane belly up to me and pulling an AAMCO Transmission advertising rag on an invisible trailing wire. In about 2 microseconds I predicted our arrival be be simultaneous in a somewhat equivalent piece of airspace. That was not the anticipated result of course and I was really pissed that he hadn't read the NOTAM published for the day (in the 10 seconds I had to decide what to best do). With all due respect to fans, aviation lovers and a somewhat unbridled hormonal instinct I took the formation UNDER the biplane, level with the flagpole over the scoreboard, called for the pullup, ascended from stadium stop after passing under the Stearman, joined up the flight and returned to Forbes AFB to land, change clothes and have the Chief's turbo fly us back for the second half of the game.

At the start of the third quarter an announcement was made for the pilots of Attack Squadon 25 to join Mr. Hunt (Lamar) in his box at the conclusion of the game. We did so and were greeted upon arrival by Ms. Hunt, a spectacularly jeweled lady of younger years. While she admitted that their box did not allow them to see the top of the stadium she was quite impressed with the level of noise and the shadows of our planes on the opposite side stadium rows of fans. In preparation for stage 1 of my losing my wings I thanked Ms. Hunt for all of us, greeted a few other zealous Redcoats, shook Mr. Hunt's hand and left in preparation of stage 2.

It is blurry what happened until the next day when we all flew out of Forbes AFB and into NAS Fallon, Nevada where we were to commence a practice weapons deployment. Upon our arrival I was greeted with stage 2 of losing my wings when the CO reemed my butt for raising the ire of all Kansas City with my attempt to kill everyone in Arrowhead Stadium. This was backed up by a scathing anti-military Kansas City Star liberal editorial and a second verbal reeming from the Light Attack Wing Pacific Navy Captain who essentially told me not to buy any green tomatoes. ALL WAS NOT LOST HOWEVER! The Stearman pilot upon interview of the incident, and in fear of losing his livlihood, swore he was 1500 feet above the stadium, saw me the entire time, and was absolutely sure that I was well clear of him and at least 1000 feet above the stadium. The second and most powerful interview was with the FAA reps on the game 50 yard line......they LOVED the flyover and saw no incident requiring further consideration or investigation. Stage 3 of wings removal evaporated!

I've searched YOUTUBE and NFL films to find a copy of the filmed overfly but to no avail. I know it exists somewhere because in 1976 while on a Mediterranean deployment there was a sports clip attached to the nightly 16MM film (how ancient is that!!) shown in squadron ready rooms on aircraft carriers. The 4 second coverage of that 1972 flyby was right there...and all the attending aviators wondered who the dumb shit was that pulled that stunt. As the Air Wing Operations Officer I owned up to it.....and was immediately transformed from an Attack Pilot to a Fighter my eyes from dumb to dumber but I let the moment pass.

In recent years 4 F-18's made a college game day flyby and they all lost their wings. That IS on YOUTUBE, I think at a Clemson game but you can find it easily on the net. It's a shame they were flying so high.

Huey L'Herault

*Anyone with connections who may be able to find out where this film exists??

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...