US Army Investigating After NFL Flyover Prompts Safety Concerns

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)

A helicopter flyover at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN has sparked an investigation from the US Army.

There are flyovers at NFL games all the time. During the Fourth of July, there is usually a flyover happening in every state across the nation. While they are common occurrences, this flyover has caused enough concern that there is an investigation into it.

The New Orleans Saints came to town to take on the Tennessee Titans. Nissan Stadium had a flyover from four helicopters. Those helis and the pilots came out of the Kentucky-Tennesse border-based Fort Campbell. Folks in Western KY and TN are very familiar with the base and their regular exercises. (Shoutout Christian County and Hopkinsville.)

Of course, this was done just after Veteran’s Day as part of the NFL Salute to Service. The 101st Airborne Division Combat Aviation Brigade flew VERY low to the stadium. There weren’t many folks questioning the event, that is until a video came out from one of the cockpits. The Titans themselves posted it.

As you can see in the video, it appears that the US Army helicopters were flying in the stadium. The two sides of the venue arch up like many other large stadiums. These were flown at eye level with the upper decks.

FAA Follows Up with Military About Flyover

Nashville-based WTVF reported that the FAA was set to follow up with the US Army. So, it seems that there are multiple agencies looking at this. While it seemed well-received in the moment, a look back at the event might tell a different story.

According to a former FAA official, the flyover could have easily been a “disaster.”

“General reaction, yeah, it was unsafe. It was very dangerous,” Larry Williams explained.

This isn’t the first time that this has happened. The US Army has done other investigations regarding flyovers. There are times when pilots will fly too low and too fast. In those cases, there have been punishments handed down from officials.

When dealing with aircraft in a stadium, it is best to just fly high and give the people a little show. Flying too low could cause issues beyond the pilot’s control and with 69,000 fans in the seats, that’s not a risk one should take.

US Army Could Follow Air Force Precedent

The US Army is going to conduct a thorough investigation. These incidents are not taken lightly. Especially if the FAA is involved. So, what kind of precedent does this have? In the past, the Air Force had to reprimand pilots.

At an NCAA football game, the pilots flew too low and far too fast. At the moment, there has not been a statement from the 101st Airborne Divison.