Story by 1LT Pawel Puczko on 05/07/2019Two Navy T-45 Goshawk trainer jets flew over Dover International Speedway to help kick off the NASCAR Gander RV 400, May 6, in honor of National Military Appreciation Month.
The jets screamed over the 1-mile concrete oval race track just as the national anthem came to a close to the delight of thousands of cheering spectators below.
"We are always honored to salute our men and women in uniform and very thankful the T-45 team was able to support our 50th Anniversary with today's flyover," said Gary Camp, assistant vice president of Marketing and Communications for Dover International Speedway. "The flyover always gets our fans pumped up just before the big race!"
Mission Commander Marine Corps Capt. Richard Dunlap led the jets from Training Squadron (VT) 9 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, Mississippi, to Dover to perform the flyover.
"What an incredible opportunity to represent Naval Aviation, and to be able to assist in providing the fans and drivers the atmosphere they were looking for," said Dunlap.
The Goshawk is a carrier-capable jet aircraft that can reach speeds of over 645 mph. It is used to train naval aviators in the advanced phase of jet training.
A flyover, such as the one performed at this event, is more than the few seconds experienced by spectators. Pre-authorized by the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee, every flyover requires careful consideration and planning, and must adhere to strict FAA and Naval Aviation safety guidelines. It also requires significant work on the ground. Each training squadron has a team of maintainers who meticulously inspect and prepare the aircraft to ensure they are safe and flight ready. During the event, a ground crew maintains radio contact with the pilots to ensure they arrive over the target at a precise time, much as if on a tactical mission.
VT-9 is one of 17 training squadrons across the five training air wings of Chief of Naval Air Training, which is responsible for all initial flight training for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. While the training mission takes priority, events such as national-level flyovers offer an opportunity to demonstrate the excitement and precision of Naval Aviation to the American public while also achieving valuable training.
CNATRA, headquartered in Corpus Christi, trains the world's finest combat quality aviation professionals, delivering them at the right time, in the right numbers, and at the right cost to a naval force that is where it matters, when it matters.