military flyover above las vegas motor speedway

Despite the prohibition against flyovers at sporting events, they occur all the time, like this one before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Shelby 427 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March 2009.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images for NASCAR

Requesting a Flyover

Anyone can request a flyover -- the military is not allowed to favor one group over another -- although you may not get approved if you don't meet certain criteria.

Requesting a flyover is as simple as filling out a form on the Department of Defense (DoD) Web site. On DoD Form 2535, you can request various services, including:

  • Flyover
  • Static display
  • Single aircraft demonstration
  • Other aerial support
  • Aerial demonstration team

If you select "aerial demonstration team," you can ask for the U.S. Army Golden Knights, U.S. Navy Blue Angels or another special team. "Other aerial support" may mean a parachute demonstration or a search and rescue group.

Expect to provide basic information about your event, such as when it's occurring and the location. You must also include crucial information about the elevation, size of the runway available (if possible) and the general type of site. It's also the requester's responsibility to offer details about any other aviation activity that may occur at the event.

The event must abide by certain guidelines that pertain to activities sanctioned by the government: It can't discriminate on any basis, nor can any organization sponsoring it. It must be open to the public. The event can't endorse one religion or political viewpoint over another. The event can't be designed to turn a profit for the sponsors. And often, the event organizers have to make space for military recruiters.

According to Form 2535, flyovers are supposed to be restricted to aviation-related events or events taking place in relation to "patriotic holidays" -- Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day [source: U.S. Air Force]. So technically, flyovers are not supposed to occur at sports events. Nevertheless, 440 sporting events had Air Force flyovers in 2005 and 2006, and during the same period, the Navy approved flyovers or parachute demos for 469 sporting events [source: Robbins].

If the event does involve planes in flight (and not a static display), then you will also have to coordinate with the local air traffic control authorities, and you may need to obtain air show waivers from the FAA up to 60 days in advance. If your request is approved, you may have to do the work in finding an available squadron. Or, you may be contacted by a squadron commander who viewed your approved request online.