Air Force Thunderbirds 'reliant on Gladys Knight' for timing of Super Bowl flyover

ATLANTA — For the past five decades, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have participated in the Super Bowl, flying over stadiums during the national anthem performance.

This year's flyover will feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, which will take off from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, and the fighter pilots of the renowned air demonstration squadron are relying on Gladys Knight to help execute it perfectly.

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Lt. Col. Eric Gorney told "CBS This Morning" he'd be in the control room Sunday with a spreadsheet, "hacking the clock at the end of each line of the national anthem to make sure we're on time."

He’ll be waiting on Knight to recite the last few lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner”: “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

"I'm reliant on Gladys Knight to execute on script on time," Gorney said. "The first thing to remember is we're going 400 mph. So we can't just stop and hover. ... We have started flying in about a minute prior to the national anthem even starting."

The soul singer, who also chatted with “CBS This Morning,” said she will get the timing down.

“I say I'm gonna do it, and you guys will know exactly when I'm gonna do this line right here,” Knight laughed.

The NFL announced Sunday the retractable roof on Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be opened for the national anthem, and then closed for the game.