October 21, 2017
Community
48° Partly Cloudy
  • During the singing of the National Anthem at the October 13 Raiders vs. Chiefs football game in Kansas City, Severna Park resident Bill Cloughley participated in a record-setting 49-plane flyover to support breast cancer research.
    During the singing of the National Anthem at the October 13 Raiders vs. Chiefs football game in Kansas City, Severna Park resident Bill Cloughley participated in a record-setting 49-plane flyover to support breast cancer research.
  • During the singing of the National Anthem at the October 13 Raiders vs. Chiefs football game in Kansas City, Severna Park resident Bill Cloughley participated in a record-setting 49-plane flyover to support breast cancer research.
    During the singing of the National Anthem at the October 13 Raiders vs. Chiefs football game in Kansas City, Severna Park resident Bill Cloughley participated in a record-setting 49-plane flyover to support breast cancer research.
  • During the singing of the National Anthem at the October 13 Raiders vs. Chiefs football game in Kansas City, Severna Park resident Bill Cloughley participated in a record-setting 49-plane flyover to support breast cancer research.
    During the singing of the National Anthem at the October 13 Raiders vs. Chiefs football game in Kansas City, Severna Park resident Bill Cloughley participated in a record-setting 49-plane flyover to support breast cancer research.

Bill Cloughley Helps Set Unofficial World Record For Formation Flight

Meredith Thompson
picture
View Bio
October 30, 2013

Severna Park Pilot Participates In 49-Plane Flyover To Support Breast Cancer Research

“O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave-” contemporary Christian artist Matthew West’s voice was nearly drowned out as he belted the National Anthem before the opening of the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders game on October 13. As a tribute to breast cancer awareness and research, 49 single-engine planes buzzed the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium for the week-6 faceoff just as West finished, “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?”

Awaiting confirmation for the Guinness World Record largest formation flyover in history, the stunt was orchestrated by KC Flight to raise money for breast cancer research, and Severna Park resident and pilot Bill Cloughley enjoyed the privilege of participating. Nearly 50 airmen from 19 states converged on Kansas City for the mid-October weekend, and once they were airborne, formed an enormous arrowhead with their Van’s RV props. Custom-made canisters affixed to each plane – including Cloughley’s RV7 kit plane he built over five years – released miles-long trails of pink smoke to drive home the message of cancer awareness.

Cloughley’s certifications as wingman and flight lead earned the IT specialist and retired Naval Officer an invitation to participate in the flyover at a pilot’s clinic last spring, and he jumped at the opportunity.

“All the pilots – we paid for our own gas to fly out there, and really didn’t get reimbursed for anything. It was 49 guys … on their own to do this, but it was a lot of fun,” he said, highlighting that the pilots came from Oregon, Texas, Louisiana and across the United States.

Following two complete practice runs on Saturday, Cloughley and his fellow aviators taxied into formation late Sunday morning, lining up two-by-two along the runway at Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport. In 5-second intervals, the colorful birds took flight in pairs before forming four-ships, or clusters of four planes, in numerical order. Over a common frequency, each four-ship’s flight lead instructed the 12 groups to come together in a loose formation, leaving about 100-200 feet between each plane as they approached Arrowhead Stadium.

“Alpha One, the lead guy … figured out the timing to get us over the stadium at the exact right time,” explained Cloughley, who served as Hotel One – the flight lead of his four-ship. “As we set up to overfly the stadium, we needed to come in close for tight formation. The lead said, ‘Bravo Flight, attach’ and they moved in tight [with Alpha Flight], then ‘Charlie Flight, attach,’ and so on.”

When the 49-plane arrowhead made its final approach over the bright red stadium at 140 mph, Cloughley estimated the aircraft were no more than 30 feet apart. “As the singer was just finishing the national anthem, we passed right overhead,” Cloughley illustrated. “Rockets went off – it was timed to the second, and it all went well.”

The nearly 80,000 cheering fans went wild as the pack of props passed overhead, setting a record of their own that day: At 137.5 decibels, Chiefs fans broke the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium. Cloughley described it as painfully loud, explaining the pilots arrived on foot at the stadium during halftime and were recognized on field during a third-quarter timeout in a cacophony of deafening applause.

Back on the East Coast, the husband and father of three splits his spare time between Essex Skypark and his basement, where he is building a WWI Fokker triplane replica. “It’s a totally impractical plane but it looks good,” Cloughley joked.

A self-proclaimed airplane nut since childhood, he earned his private pilot’s license just after his high school graduation but hangared his hobby after just one flight with his mother to serve in the Navy for 20 years. Retirement from the Navy propelled him back into his passion years later, and between co-owning a plane with his brother-in-law and building his own, Cloughley has been airborne for the last 12 years.

The history buff regularly takes trips with his wife, Lynnette, to fly along routes such as the Oregon Trail and the route taken by Louis and Clark. He also attends the annual AirVenture OshKosh airshow, participates in airport open houses, and does flyovers for weddings and other events.

Although Cloughley was thrilled to support a good cause while out in Kansas City – the flyover raised nearly $30,000 for breast cancer research – he admitted his favorite aspect of the once-in-a-lifetime experience was just that: It was unique. “It was challenging to do it, and [I loved] the camaraderie with the other pilots, all doing something together that you just don’t see every day,” he summed.


Sidebar Ad

Faces of the Voice

  • Lonnie Lancione
    Publisher
  • Brian Lancione
    V.P., Operations
  • William Nauman
    Creative Director
  • Colin Murphy
    Sports Editor
    @ArVoiceSports / @ColinAJMurphy
    @SPVoiceSports / @ColinAJMurphy
    @PVoiceSports / @ColinAJMurphy
  • Larry Sells
    Vice President, Sales and Development
    @LarrySells1
    @LarrySells1
    @LarrySells1
  • Zach Sparks
    Assistant Editor
    @Sparks907
    @Sparks907
    @Sparks907
  • Dianna Lancione
    Publisher
    parkiewoman
  • Dylan Roche
    Editor
    @dylroche
    @dylroche
    @dylroche

Latest Tweets

  • SPVoice

    Join us next week on Tuesday, October 24, for our first-ever job fair at Severna Park Library. https://t.co/4DaMO0VC5s
  • SPVoice

    RT @SPVoiceSports: Here they are, your 2017 field hockey county champion Severna Park Falcons 😊🏑 https://t.co/A7OmkpLrWn
  • SPVoice

    RT @JonesESAACPS: Jones celebrates 60 yrs of wonderful by listening to former teachers, students, nurses, & principals! #aacpsawesome https…

Events Calendar

Request an Advertising Quote

Please do not add dashes. (ex: 4106479400)
Do not enter anything here.
Search Articles
Search Authors
Search Blog