As a crowd of more than 70,000 fans prepared to watch Army take on Navy in Philadelphia, five aviators from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83 conducte the pre-game flyover, Dec. 14.
The five-man F/A-18E flyover was led by Cmdr. Luke Johnson, VFA-83 Commanding Officer, who is a 2002 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and is from Memphis, Tennessee. The storied Army-Navy game returned to Philadelphia for the 89th time in the game's 120-year history.
“While I have conducted many flyovers, this [was] my first time leading a flyover over a football game,” said Johnson, who while attending the Naval Academy never imagined 17 years later he would get an opportunity to complete a flyover for such a storied game.
Lt. Timothy Dickson from Cleveland, Ohio and a 2014 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy said he was honored to participate in the flyover for his alma mater.
“While growing up in Cleveland my dad would take me to airshows every year and I knew that I wanted to grow up to be a naval aviator and to now years later have an opportunity to conduct a flyover for this annual game is truly and honor,” said Dickson.
Similar to Dickson, Johnson wanted to serve in the U.S. Navy to follow in his father’s footsteps who served in Vietnam flying an A-7 Corsair II.
“I knew growing up I wanted to follow a similar career path of my father, and to have an opportunity to serve in the U.S. Navy and become an aviator is an honor,” said Johnson.
In addition to Johnson and Dickson, three other U.S. Naval Academy graduates participated in the F/A-18E flyover. They are Lt. Cmdr. Adam Mosley, who graduated from the Academy in 2006 and is from Augusta, Georgia; Lt. Cmdr. Sam Rykaczewski, who is a 2008 graduate from the Academy and is from Satellite Beach, Florida; and Lt. Cmdr. Nate Davey, who is a 2008 graduate of the Academy and is from Evergreen Colorado.