So there will be a flyover at Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game after all.
The 333rd Fighter Squadron “Lancers” – out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro – will send two F-15E Strike Eagle aircrafts screaming over Bank of America Stadium during the last few bars of the national anthem and moments before the 1 p.m. kickoff.
Carolina’s first regular-season home game, against the San Francisco 49ers, will be televised live on Fox.
This particular “official” flyover will take place less than three weeks after four A-10 “Warthogs” (out of Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Ga.) went low over uptown Charlotte during routine navigation training. Initial reports suggested that the flight was “a practice flyover for a football game,” but they later proved to be unfounded (although Panthers Coach Ron Rivera – whose team’s practice was startled by the planes – called the flyover “pretty awesome.”
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In sharing the news about the flyover on social media Thursday night, the Panthers tweeted, “This time, we’ll be ready!”
Those planes will whoosh by (and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will kneel) as the “The Star-Spangled Banner” is performed by Emmy Award-winning trumpet player Jesse McGuire, who has performed for three U.S. presidents and with artists including James Brown and Stevie Wonder.
Coincidentally, McGuire also performed the anthem at Bank of America Stadium on Jan. 12, 2014 – when the Panthers lost to San Francisco, 23-10, in an NFC divisional playoff game. Bad game for Carolina, but good performance by McGuire:
In addition, the team will host several other special guests at the stadium on Sunday.
▪ The invocation will be given by Dr. James Howell, who is the senior pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church.
▪ The colors will be presented by the Charlotte Fire Department Honor Guard.
▪ The “Keep Pounding” drummer will be former NFL linebacker Kevin Greene, a five-time Pro-Bowler and a recent inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Greene, 54, spent 15 years in the league (including three with the Panthers – 1996 and 1998-99), before retiring after the 1999 campaign. He also spent one year (1997) with the 49ers.
▪ The Clemson University Tiger Band will perform at halftime.