COLUMBUS – Crestview High School graduate Justin Kreischer will make two entrances at the Ohio State-Michigan game Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
The first time, he will be the center of attention. His second arrival will be much quieter.
Kreischer will be leading a formation of four F-16 fighter jets in a flyover of the stadium at the end of the national anthem before kickoff.
Then the four pilots will land at Rickenbacker Airport south of Columbus, get into waiting cars and be back at the stadium, probably around halftime, to watch the Buckeyes and Wolverines play the second half.
It will be the first flyover at a Buckeyes game in several years. The Air Force had cut back on them because of budget tightening. But around six months ago it began approving them again.
Kreischer, a 1999 Crestview graduate who received a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State in 2005, has been a pilot in the Air National Guard, based in Toledo, since 2011. He enlisted in the National Guard in 1999 and started fighter pilot training in 2009.
He holds the rank of captain and is scheduled to be promoted to major in February.
Kreischer said he “jumped all over” the chance to be part of the flyover at an Ohio State game.
“It initially gets started from the school. The school can request a flyby. They [Ohio State] requested the flyby, then it goes through Air Force channels. It went all the way up to the Pentagon.
“When we found out about it up here in Toledo, I basically jumped all over it. I went to Ohio State. There are a lot of us [Ohio State graduates] in the fighter wing up here in Toledo. I took it to my commander and he agreed absolutely to do this and be part of this tradition.”
This will be Kreischer’s first flyover at a sporting event.
The planes will go south to north over Ohio Stadium. The lowest they are allowed to fly is 1,000 feet above the ground.
“We’ll hit it right at the national anthem and we’ll be as loud as we can be to get the crowd pumped. We’ll probably scare a lot of people if they don’t know it’s going to happen. We’ll cruise over the stadium pretty loud,” Kreischer said.
“It represents precision, power and history. The precision is hitting it just right at the national anthem. The power is four military fighter aircraft being in the flyby. And the history is just that there is such a big history with the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry,” he said.
Getting the timing just right is very important. The pilots, who will be in the air 10 to 15 miles south of the stadium, will be in contact with someone on the ground in the stadium who will update them down to the second how close to schedule the pregame activities are running.
“We haven’t had a flyby for a long time at Ohio State. It doesn’t happen very often. We’re looking forward to it. We’re pretty pumped,” Kreischer said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.