Mid afternoon on Sunday, Sept. 10, multiple residents started reporting sitings of several low-flying fighter jets flying over Wilton. Thanks to social media, they quickly discovered why: the jets were getting into formation for a planned flyover of the U.S. Open tennis matches.
New York City Emergency Management had tweeted the notice one day earlier, followed by Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara on Sunday, who also confirmed on Twitter that, “In case anyone asks. The jets over fairfield are part of a Flyover for the US Open in Flushing Queens.”
Planned Flyover: five F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft will fly over the Hudson River, over Manhattan, &to the US Open (QN) on 9/10 btwn 3PM-4PM
— NYCEM – Notify NYC (@NotifyNYC) September 9, 2017
In case anyone asks. The jets over fairfield are part of a Flyover for the US Open in Flushing Queens.
— Chief Gary MacNamara (@ChiefGaryMac) September 10, 2017
Wilton High School sophomore Brady Kuczo got this great shot of the planes (above) in formation above Wilton.
The U.S. Open website has the full details of the precision and choreography of the flyover, timed to happen during the final seconds of actor Corey Hawkins’ singing “America the Beautiful” on the ground at Arthur Ashe stadium, right before the men’s final match. Flown by members of the 334th Fighter Squadron, based out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, the four fighter jets will pass over Arthur Ashe Stadium in fingertip formation (as seen in their Wilton flyover, above).
“What makes the flyover special is the exact timing of the pass. The Strike Eagles will take off from Newark Airport in New Jersey and stay in a holding pattern over Long Island waiting for their cue.
“When ESPN begins its live coverage, the F-15s begin their approach toward Flushing, traveling at a speed no faster than 300 mph. Air traffic into and out of LaGuardia and JFK airports is temporarily suspended while the jets complete their maneuver.
“At 4:02 p.m. there will be a color guard presented by the United States Marine Corps, Sixth Communications Battalion, from Brooklyn, N.Y. Exactly one minute later, the in-studio ESPN crew throws the coverage down to the on-court presenter and, 30 seconds after that, there will be a moment of silence.
“At 4:03:30 p.m., Tony Award nominee and star of the film Straight Outta Compton Corey Hawkins begins his performance of America the Beautiful, as Cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point unfurl the American flag across the court.
“Hawkins’ performance is timed to take two minutes, 16 seconds. Since it takes the jets about five minutes to go from their holding pattern to above Arthur Ashe Stadium, they will start their journey before Hawkins begins his performance. U.S. Air Force Major Phil Hafdahl will be providing the planes with real-time feedback from the roof of the stadium, instructing them to speed up or slow down depending on their location and the speed of the song. If Hawkins does not hold a note for as long as he did in his sound check and rehearsal, for example, the song could be over before the jets pass, so Major Hafdahl and Major Lance George will be in constant contact with his team.
If everything goes according to schedule, the jets will fly over the stadium at 4:06:17 p.m., three seconds before the song ends and as Hawkins is blasting out the final line, ‘…from sea to shining sea.’
“The eight pilots and weapons systems officers taking part in the flyover are Lieutenant Colonel Levi Hall, Lieutenant Colonel Jason Watson, Major Wade Maulsby, Major Don Martin, Major Rocco Botticelli, Captain Andy Lawler, Captain Jonathan Martin, Captain Meghan Booze. Major Taylor Wight will be flying a fifth plane carrying an Air Force cameraman.”