Jaguars players, fans upset by no flyovers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Pregame flyovers have become a staple of Jaguars home games in recent years, but fans may have to do without them this upcoming season.

As the Air Force braces for potential budget cuts, leadership has cancelled all aviation support to public events for at least the remainder of the fiscal year in September. Active duty, reserve and guard units will cease all aviation support to the public.

"It's devastating. I mean, it's one of the most exciting things that you can see as a fan and to get you inspired for the game to begin," said Karen Weldon, a Jaguars fan since the team's inception.

The Air Force is canceling support to all air shows, trade shows, flyovers, including funerals and military graduations, orientation flights, heritage flights, F-22 demonstration flights and open houses, unless the event includes only local static assets.

"It's unfortunate. I mean, that's like an NFL thing. There's always kind of the big bang going into the start of a sporting event, and for the NFL, the flyover is that big bang," Jaguars offensive guard Uche Nwaneri said. "That's what gets the crowd electric before the start of the game."

"Nothing beats listening to the national anthem and then looking up and watching two fighter jets fly right up across from you," Jaguars defensive end Austen Lane said. "You get chills from it, and I think it's kind of like ruining tradition when you take it away."

The Air Force will reduce flying hours by as much as 18 percent -- about 203,000 hours -- and impacts will be felt across the service and will directly affect operational and training missions. The president of the Jaguars says losing the flyover is unfortunate.

"It's very difficult to replace a flyover," Mark Lamping said.

He said because Jacksonville is a military town, the military will still have a presence at the home games.

"The military recognition and appreciation will always be a big part of what the Jaguars do," Lamping said.

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