USAF Golden Knights parachute team

The United States Air Force Golden Knights are an experienced parachute team that performs at many events. See our collection of military jets pictures.

USAF Golden Knights

The thrilling roar of fighter jets performing a military flyover is now a common experience at many big spectacles or major sporting events, even at the opening of some Little League seasons. The military approves most of the 850 or so flyover requests submitted annually [source: Robbins].

The Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force all participate in flyovers of one sort or another. Generally, these spectacles are arranged through the appropriate service's public affairs or community relations office.

They don't come cheaply: It cost $36,000 for six F/A-18A Hornet fighter jets -- from the Navy's Blue Angels squadron -- to fly over the University of Phoenix Stadium before the 2008 Super Bowl [source: Robbins]. (A Blue Angels press officer told the Orlando Sentinel that the cost was worth it in order to increase the Blue Angels' and the Navy's visibility [source: Robbins].)

The cost is deducted from funds used for training, but for some special services, like the Golden Knights skydiving team, the event organizer (if it's a private organization) may have to pay for lodging, meals and transportation -- up to $3,000 a day.

The military views flyovers as promotional and recruiting opportunities for the armed services. They allow ordinary citizens to see the military up close in a way that's normally not possible.

A flyover flight actually counts as training for the pilots, but with a flyover essentially consisting of a brief flight between two points, labeling it "training" could be viewed as rather generous.

In this article, we'll take a close look at how you request a flyover and what happens during a flyover, such as how the pilots manage to appear exactly when the national anthem is ending. We'll also examine incidents in which flyovers went wrong.