Civilian pilots volunteer to beat sequester for Arlington flyover
Washington, D.C., Sept. 20 -- Eight civilian pilots will take to the skies Monday and fly over Arlington National Cemetery on their own dime to honor two fellow military members who were Killed in Action.
The remains of USAF Majors James Elmo Sizemore and Howard Andre, who were both killed in action in Laos, Southeast Asia in 1969, were recently discovered, and will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery Monday.
Flyovers are approved for Arlington funerals and interments when the military member fits the strict criteria for the aerial tribute. But sequestration has stripped any current funding for this honor so a group of civilian aviators, let by the Warrior Flight Team, decided to cover the gap.
The flyover will consist of four tactical jet aircraft and five historical war bird aircraft including the type Majors Sizemore and Andre were shot down in. All participating aircraft and their respective pilots -- most veterans themselves -- have been donated by their owners.
The flyover will took place over Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA on September 23, 2013 at approximately 12:00 pm. Interviews available with pilots at the Manasass Airport after the flyover at 2 p.m.
Majors Sizemore and Andre’s aircraft was shot down by enemy fire on 8 July 1969. They were initially listed as Missing- in- Action and later reclassified as Killed-in-Action. Their crash site was located and excavated in 2012 and their remains were recovered and positively identified in 2013.
Warrior Flight Team, along with their affiliate Warrior Aviation, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships in aviation related fields and job-related training to wounded serviceman from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, committed to the flyover at their own expense and had to gain waivers, flight plans and clearances from the Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service and Federal Aviation Administration. The USAF declined to support the flyover mission due to funding shortfalls as a result of the sequestration.