The U of M jet fighter flyovers on football Saturdays are more fun than a clown on fire, and probably comparable in price, depending on the clown.
This is what football stadium
flyovers look like in other countries.
I live in a town that is home to one of the best college football teams in the country. Although I’m not a huge football fan, I still guess that’s kind of cool. Although sometimes I think the local university may have its priorities screwed up; whenever I look at the largest college football stadium in the country, I remember the time a few years ago when a friend of mine was tutoring one of the team’s star players, and he broke down crying in the second session, because he literally couldn’t read.
But that’s not what I really want to talk about. I want to talk about jet fighters. For at least the last two years, the university has commissioned US military jet flyovers for games. I guess it’s really invigorating to have these thunderous machines of destruction fly over the stadium at halftime. That must be why the Israeli military does nightly machbusting flyovers of Palestine. They just want to INVIGORATE the families and children that live there. But what does all this invigoration COST, I wondered. So I did a little research. It appears that a conservative estimate of the operating cost per hour of an F-16 (the jets in question) is about $3,000-$5,000 (source, PDF). So today, when those four jets “invigorate” the entire town, the base cost could easily be about $12,000-$20,000.
This made me curious about two other things. The first was, how far could a typical gas-guzzling SUV drive on the amount of fuel these jets consume? There is of course no scientific source for this kind of comparison, but we did our best. GM cleverly doesn’t have to rate the mileage of its H2 Hummer because of its GVWR, but if you average the figures here, you come up with exactly 10 miles per gallon. Likewise with the F-16′s fuel consumption, the figures are highly technical, not broadly advertised, and are influenced by things like altitude, airspeed, and whether or not the craft is in afterburner mode or not. The range of consumption though is 55,000-90,000lb/hour, so we averaged that to 72,500. One pound of standard F-16 fuel is about 6.85 gallons, so in an hour, the jet could use 10,583 gallons. That of course means the fuel the F-16 uses in one hour could take a Hummer 105,830 miles, which is about five times around the Earth, or half way to the moon. Your choice. Your results with the Toyota Prius will be a little different, you’d be able to go 582,065 miles, so you could go to the moon and BACK, and still have enough gas to drive around the Earth almost six times.
The second question was WHO THE HELL PAYS for this? We have an inquiry in with the university, and local news sources say it’s all part of a “military appreciation event”, which includes a pregame tailgate for Michigan “Gold Star” families, university staff, and student veterans. But we suspect in the end it’s your tax dollars.