Vermont F-16s Take Part in Opening Day at Fenway Park - NECN
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Vermont F-16s Take Part in Opening Day at Fenway Park

Vermont Air National Guard pilots timed their arrival in the skies over the ballpark to coincide with the end of the National Anthem

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    Vermont Air National Guard pilots timed their arrival in the skies over the ballpark to coincide with the end of the National Anthem. (Published Monday, April 11, 2016)

    Continuing a tradition for the Red Sox home opener at Fenway Park in Boston, F-16s from the Vermont Air National Guard made a cameo appearance in the opening day ceremonies.

    "The stadium just goes nuts," said Lt. Col. John Rahill of the Vermont Air National Guard. "It's pretty cool."

    A pair of F-16s stationed at the Air Guard base in South Burlington roared over Fenway Park in advance of Monday's Sox home opener.

    Their day started in South Burlington, with three jets first heading over to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for some required training exercises. Rahill said the plan was to then go down to the Boston area, where the jets would be able to work on more skills, like holding patterns, until receiving a cue from the ground so their wingtip-to-wingtip formation would sync up precisely with the conclusion of the National Anthem inside Fenway.

    "It's a core competency we have," Rahill said, describing a combat skill pilots practice to be able to be over a specific point at a specific time.

    Rahill explained the pilots use avionics technology in the aircraft to match the arrival of their flyover to the running time of the National Anthem clocked during rehearsal.

    Rahill said the Green Mountain Boys are fairly experienced with overlapping their training missions, which pilots are required to make each month, with sporting events. He told necn the unit has been doing Fenway flyovers of one kind or another for more than 15 years, and have also done flyovers for major New England Patriots Games.

    "We have a few Yankees fans in the unit, but I'd say most of us are Red Sox fans up here," Rahill said of his team.

    After the Fenway fly-by, Rahill said the itinerary was for the jets to land at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts, before embarking on another, more traditional, training mission Tuesday. The Green Mountain Boys were expected to return to South Burlington Tuesday.

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