It was a historic first. A trifecta of American strategic bombers doing a flyover of Super Bowl LV at the precise moment the National Anthem ended. It only lasted a few seconds, but the cheers of the limited number of fans in attendance were noticeably loud.

But the fans would be even more impressed if they knew how much work and advanced planning goes into something like this. And even more so if they considered the quiet message this flyover sent to our potential adversaries around the world.

According to the Air Force, a trifecta flyover like this has been desired for years. But you can’t just dial up three different strategic bombers from three different bases and expect them to just appear at a precise moment over a precise location. So complex is the trifecta that it had been shelved for years.

If we wanted to fly a B1B Lancer, B-2 Spirit, and B-52 Stratofortress together in formation at low speed and altitude and over a target at a precise moment, what would it take? Well, quite a lot.

“We started doing our initial planning for this flyover back in March of 2020,” said Katie Spencer, Sports Outreach Program manager and Aerial Events coordinator for the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office. “The bomber trifecta flyover is something that Carla Pampe, the AFGSC chief of civic outreach, had been pitching to us for about four years, and this year it worked out for us to do it.”

To make matters more difficult, each of the bombers came from a different Bomber Wing in a different part of the country.

Chief of the Air Combat Command Aerial Events Branch, Lt. Col. Chris McAlear served as the ground controller for the Super Bowl and vectored the aircraft in for the actual flyover.

“This flyover took a lot of extra coordination because we were working with three different wings at three different bases,” he said in a release from the Air Force. “Normally you’re working with one unit who is used to doing these types of flyovers, so it was a new dynamic for us.”