Listed below are the eligibility requirements and application procedures for a military flyover at the funeral of a qualified veteran for each of the military services. Military flyovers are not part of the funeral honors ceremony as required by Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 1491, but can be arranged if supporting personnel and aircraft are available.
It should be noted upfront that requests for a military flyover are simply that – requests – and that approval for such requests must go through an administrative process within each military service in accordance with DoD Directive 5410.18. Approval is contingent on many factors, including the military status of the deceased, the availability of personnel and aircraft, the location of the funeral service, the time and date of the funeral, and weather conditions.
Implementing Instruction: Air Force Instruction 11-209 “Aerial Event Policy and Procedures”
- Flyovers are authorized for USAF members (active duty, retired, or honorably separated) who meet at least one of the following criteria and can provide documentation:
- Active-duty or currently serving Air Reserve Component, or ARC, rated officers (pilots, navigators, air battle managers, observers and flight surgeons) and Career Enlisted Aviators (1AXXX enlisted crewmembers, i.e., flight engineers, loadmasters, boom operators, etc.). This category includes those taking courses of instruction leading to an aeronautical rating. Treat ARC members the same as active duty (eligible when death occurs whether on or off duty). This includes ARC members not on unit training assembly (UTA) or military orders.
- Active-duty or currently serving ARC non-rated officers, non-Career Enlisted Aviators and Operations Support Flyers (as defined in AFI 11-402, “Aviation and Parachutist Service, Aeronautical Ratings and Badges,” i.e., nurses, medical technicians, intelligence specialists, etc.) but only when death occurs in the line of duty while performing aviation duties.
- Dignitaries of the armed forces and federal government
- Active-duty or retired USAF three-star and four-star general officers, regardless of aeronautical rating
- Active-duty or retired Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force, or CMSAF
- USAF members (active duty, retired, or honorably separated) who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, Air Force Cross, Army Distinguished Service Cross or the Navy Cross
- USAF aviators (active duty, retired or honorably separated) who have achieved at least one or more officially recognized aerial victories. The Air Force Historical Research Agency is the official source for aerial victories.
- USAF members (active duty, retired or honorably separated) who were prisoners of war
Funeral flyovers may be requested through the servicing base mortuary affairs office or by calling the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations at 800-531-5803. The approval authority is the Air Force Aerial Events office.
Funeral flyover request documents
DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or similar discharge documentation recording the individual’s honorable discharge, rank and decorations.
A letter from the next of kin or the person acting on their behalf requesting the flyover.
An Exception to Policy package, required when the member does not meet established eligibility criteria, must include a biography with the justification.
The Vice Chief of Staff of the Army is the approval authority for all flyover requests for the Army. Due to current fiscal and operational constraints, there are only rare circumstances when the Army would provide flyover support. There could be an exception to policy in special circumstances for exceptional high-impact events that meet specific and strategic communication requirements.
Exception to Policy Requests
Army Regulation 360-1 states the procedures for an exception must be approved by the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army through the Office of Chief of Public Affairs, or OCPA. Request submissions will be made through the Defense Outplacement Referral System, or DORS, and/or DD Form 2535. The point of contact for flyover request is the OCPA casualty team lead, 703-697-5084.
Implementing Instruction: Marine Corps Order 5410.18 Public Affairs Community Relations Policy
- MCO 5410.18 states that flyovers, including the missing man formation, at memorial services in honor of rated and/or designated active duty aviation personnel and dignitaries of the armed forces or the federal government, shall be determined by the military services.
- Funeral flyovers for aviators killed on active duty are staffed for decision to the Deputy Commandant of Aviation.
- All others shall be determined by the military services, i.e., Medal of Honor Recipients, American heroes, etc., which require proper staffing to the assistant commandant of aviation for approval.
- Sufficient lead time is required to ensure proper staffing, tasking and coordination
- Request Process
- The process to request funeral flyovers for active-duty personnel comes through the Headquarters Marine Corps Casualty Branch at Quantico, Virginia, via the designated casualty assistant calls officer, or CACO, and then to Headquarters Marine Corps Aviation Support Coordination Office for approval.
- The contact number to initiate the request for Marine Corps funeral flyovers is 866-826-3628. Requests should be accompanied by the DD Form 214 or other documentation that shows an honorable characterization of service.
Implementing Instruction: COMNAVAIRFOR Instruction 3710.8 "Procedures for Authorization to Participate in Aerial Demonstrations and Orientation Flights"
The following people are eligible for a flyover:
- Active duty aeronautically designated aviation officers and personnel (including reserve officers on active duty).
- Active duty personnel taking courses of instruction leading to an aeronautical designation, when involved in an aviation-related accident.
- Any active duty or retired flag officer.
- Retired U.S. Armed Forces war heroes (recipients of the Silver Star or higher).
- Dignitaries of the Armed Forces or federal government as appropriate.
Requests are made to COMNAVAIRFOR (N3):
For ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, or ANC, please call 202-433-6961. For all others, please call 202-433-6892.
Each request must be accompanied by a copy of the DD Form 214 or honorable discharge paperwork. The office that is coordinating the request will provide the requestor with an email address or a facsimile number to send in the required documentation.