PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s a big weekend in Philadelphia as Army and Navy renew their annual football rivalry. But before they meet on the gridiron, there’s a day full of competition off the field.
Pilots with the Army and Navy are preparing to pull off a spectacle in South Philly.
Before Saturday’s game on CBS3, each team will perform a flyover above Lincoln Financial Field.
And the lead pilot for the Army is a Philadelphia native.
Most of the military’s missions are done in private, out of the public’s view. But on Saturday, the mission will be on television and above a packed house, which means everything must be perfect.
“Precise is exactly the right word. Everything has to be coordinated,” Maj. Anthony Fuscellaro said.
Precision was on display as six AH-64 Apache helicopters flew and hovered just 40 feet away from each other, just 1,000 feet over the Linc.
“We jokingly refer to it as a ballet,” Fuscellaro said. “Every one of these pilots has to fully understand exactly what is going to happen.”
Fuscellaro will be in the gun one position for the maneuver. In other words, he’s the first pilot in the first helicopter during the maneuver.
On Friday, he led his pilots in their final practice flight before the Army West Point Black Knights take on the Navy Midshipmen.
‘We want to make sure there are no surprises, we look as good as possible for not only the city of Philadelphia but making sure we represent the Army and the Army team appropriately,” Fuscellaro said.
The helicopters and pilots aren’t just here for the show. Each and every one of them has also been in combat.
The pilots are from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade based out of Fort Bragg. Their nickname is the “All Americans.”
When the country is entering combat, they’re the first ones there to support ground troops. Their Apache helicopters, which can fly for over three hours, are nicknamed “The Guardians.”
For Fuscellaro, this isn’t just work, it’s also personal. He grew up in Philadelphia before joining the Army. He also graduated from West Point.
“For me, this is an absolute bucket list item,” he said. “So being able to integrate not only where I went to college, where I grew up and what I do as a professional, is a phenomenal event.”
It is supposed to rain Saturday. Fuscellaro says that shouldn’t stop them from doing their flyover.
Watch the Army-Navy game at 3 p.m. on CBS3.