Susan "Sue" Owen '94 March 27, 2023 10:44 AM updated: April 5, 2023 3:20 PM
Flyovers are a beloved feature of Texas A&M home football games, often featuring Aggie pilots.
Thanks to a large number of Aggie aviators in the military seeking to take part, the tradition has expanded this spring to A&M baseball games, with flyovers at the home opener, Feb. 17, and the first conference game, March 17.
The next is scheduled for Tuesday night, March 28, before the Aggies’ game vs. the University of Texas, and another is planned in April.
Tuesday’s flyover will feature “many Aggies on board” a C-5M Super Galaxy – the Air Force’s largest aircraft, too big to land at College Station’s Easterwood Airport, said Maj. John Parrish ’03 with A&M’s Corps of Cadets.
March 17’s flyover was an impressively low pass by an Aggie-piloted C-130. Parrish said that although he is not certain what the C-130’s altitude was, and aircraft must typically fly 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle on their flight path, “since they are within Easterwood Airport’s controlled airspace, they could coordinate a low altitude.”
For April, Parrish said, plans are being worked out for a flyover during Texas A&M’s Family Weekend, April 14-16, to support the Corps review and the A&M home baseball series vs. Missouri. Parrish helps coordinate flyovers in his role as an assistant director of operations for the Corps’ Air Force ROTC.
What brought about the new baseball flyovers?
Many Aggies in the military offering to take part, Parrish said.
“In general, the three different services (Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force) only have the opportunity for 2-3 flyovers in a single football season, and we typically have many more Aggie aviators who are clamoring to provide support for their beloved university,” Parrish said. “And Aggie baseball is the next great open-air athletic event to support.”
On the Aggie baseball side of coordination, A&M assistant athletics director Holli Chapton said, “After the football season ended, I had Major Parrish reach out to me and say that they would be interested in doing flyovers at baseball this season. So the planning started back at the end of November.”
They began with four proposed dates. “Once they were approved by the FAA, it was just waiting to see if there was a flight crew that would pick the flyover up, and we’ve been lucky enough to have three of the original four dates picked up and proposed one more date in April,” said Chapton, who leads marketing, promotions, game and fan experience elements at Blue Bell Park.
For next season, she said, “I hope to continue the relationship to be able to have flyovers again. They have been super fun, and I am still amazed when it happens.”
Whenever needed, The Association of Former Students helps provide hotel accommodations for the football flyover crews, and this has continued into the baseball flyovers, with Association support assisting with the March 17 and March 28 flyovers so far. This part of the A&M gameday experience both inspires pride and connects with the Aggie value of selfless service.
Support for both current and former students’ Aggie experiences is a central purpose of The Association, which provides academic scholarships, support to student organizations, funding to faculty and staff, former student programs and more.
Chapton said she times the baseball flyovers “to be right at the end of the (national) anthem. The anthem at baseball always starts 4 minutes before the first pitch, so in my timing sheet I just have the flyover hitting right after and am on radio with one of my marketing team student members, who is up on the roof with the radio man talking with the flight crew.”
Learn how A&M football flyovers are timed to the second: tx.ag/FlyoverTiming
The Feb. 17 baseball flyover included three Aggies among the pilots of four T-6A turboprop training planes from the 559th Flying Training Squadron out of Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph: Col. James Muñiz ’96 (who was part of the 12th Man football kickoff team in his A&M student days), Lt. Col. Chris Antenen ’01 and Lt. Col. Drew Powers ’05.
March 17’s flyover, marking the opening of SEC play this season, included Lt. Col. Brian Kriss '01 and Capt. Matthew McBride '11 piloting a C-130J Super Hercules from the 181st Airlift Squadron of the Texas Air National Guard, based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.
Tuesday’s flyover will be executed by the 68th Airlift Squadron, an Air Force Reserve unit out of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. Two Aggies and a Longhorn will be part of the aircrew flying over Blue Bell, with another three Aggies making up part of the crew recognized on field afterward.
Aboard the C-5M:
To be recognized on the field, representing the squadron: