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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Navy pilots to entertain fans with pregame flyover

This weekend, the midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy will travel to Notre Dame for the 89th meeting of the Notre Dame and Navy football programs, and the game will begin with a rare flyover.

The theme for this football weekend is military appreciation, director of operations and assistant professor of Naval Science Major Regan Jones said. He said the theme is especially significant given the storied relationship between the Naval Academy and Notre Dame.

"In the '40s ... World War II kicked off and all the fighting-age men — at the time Notre Dame was an all-male institution — went to war," Jones said. "Notre Dame was really in a financial crisis and one of the things that saved the University was the fact that the U.S. Navy ... set up an officer training program at Notre Dame, ... where thousands of young men were trained and commissioned as officers in the Navy.

"That injection of money basically saved Notre Dame and kept them from going bankrupt."

20131102, 20131102, Flyover, Football, Notre Dame vs Navy, Observer File Photo
Observer File Photo

Though the U.S. Navy only authorizes 40 flyovers per year due to budget constraints, Notre Dame will have its second flyover of the season for the game on Saturday, Jones said. He said he thinks the reason Notre Dame was authorized a second flyover is because of the historic relationship between Notre Dame and Navy.

The pilots who will complete the flyover are from two different squadrons out of Norfolk, Virginia, and will be flying four twin-engine fighter jets known as Super Hornets in a diamond shape over the stadium. Jones said the pilots will receive recognition at halftime and Notre Dame ROTC students will have the chance to meet them on Sunday.

The University is also bringing in Wounded Warriors and several alumni to campus for recognition, Jones said. He said the military appreciation theme will extend into Friday's pep rally as well.

"The idea was Notre Dame has always been very supportive of the ROTC, especially the military, and if we created [a] military appreciation event for the football game, it would serve as an opportunity not only for the University to recognize all the accomplishments of Notre Dame alumni that have served [and] Wounded Warriors, but just service people in general," Jones said. "[It would] serve as an opportunity to also leverage national assets like the military flyover to get other military-type things onto campus for one particular day of the year."

Jones said the planning of the weekend has been a team effort. The band, the Athletic Department, Game Day Operations and the ushers have all been supportive of and excited about the weekend and what it stands for, he said.

Nate Stone, senior and Navy ROTC student, said this weekend is very exciting for ROTC students too.

"I'm always excited by this game because it gives us an opportunity to interact with Academy midshipmen who will one day be our colleagues," Stone said. "We're really honored to have them here and also excited."