More than 65,000 screaming fans looked up as the last notes of the national anthem played and cheered as a plane roared overhead.
Virginia Tech enjoys an amazing game day experience in Lane Stadium, but one program makes it unlike any other in the country. For more than a decade, fans have enjoyed numerous flyovers each football season thanks to the many Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumni who coordinate the aircraft and often get to fly them over the stadium.
The former alumni director for the Corps of Cadets, Col. Rock Roszak, a Class of 1971 corps alumnus, said the military connection is important to Hokie Nation.
“The impact on the sporting event is significant on its own — what a way to start a game — but to see people stand there in tears when they hear the sound of freedom and recognize all those who have sacrificed so much for their personal freedom is why this is important to do," Roszak said. "As a senior military college, we must recognize our military ties, and thus have developed a process that is now a significant part of the game day atmosphere, thanks to our alums who really make these happen.”
The first flyover coordinated by the Corps of Cadets happened because Jeff Menges, a Class of 1989 corps alumnus with a degree in management from the Pamplin College of Business, was serving with an Air Force Reserve unit at Warner Robbins, Ga. Menges called Roszak to see if the corps might be interested in a B-1 flying over a game.
The response from the crowd was so great that Roszak began reaching out to other alums to bring in more aircraft.
Menges’ son, Cadet Connor Menges of Woodbridge, Va., a sophomore majoring in general engineering in the College of Engineering, is following in his father’s footsteps as he pursues a career in the U.S. Air Force.
Virginia Tech is one of the few places that the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber has performed a flyover. The B-2 has visited Virginia Tech not once, but three times because of the initial efforts of Lt. Col. Bruce Adams, a Class of 1982 corps alumnus who earned a degree in secondary education, industrial arts. Adams flew the first B-2 over Lane Stadium in 2002.
His son, Cadet Lucas Adams of Chesapeake, Va., a senior majoring in apparel, housing, and resource management in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will serve as an officer is the U.S. Air Force like his father.
Cliff Anders, a Class of 2000 corps alumnus who earned a degree in forestry from the College of Natural Resources and Environment led a flyover of two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters for the Western Kentucky game in 2008. During his time at Virginia Tech, Anders was a snapper for the Hokies and played in the 2000 national championship game against Florida State. He now flies for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In 2010, 2011, and 2012, the Tri-State Warbird Museum in Batavia, Ohio, has brought historical aircraft from World War II. These flyovers have been coordinated and financed by Stan Cohen a Class of 1949 corps alumnus who earned his bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering in 1949 and master’s degree in civil engineering in 1951 from the College of Engineering.
The connection between the Corps of Cadets and the Virginia Tech Athletic Department is a proud partnership, one that is shared by all of Hokie Nation.
Two World War II-era planes took place in a flyover at the Sept. 22, 2012, football game. The planes were on display the day before at the Virginia Tech airport.
For Corps Homecoming 2012, the Tri-State Warbird Museum sent a bomber and a fighter to Lane Stadium.
A B-1 was the first flyover coordinated by the Corps of Cadets more than a decade ago.
Look through previous Spotlight stories