BOSTON (CBS) – When Boston celebrates the Fourth of July next week, not all of the performers will be on the ground.

The celebration on the Esplanade begins with a military flyover.

He serves in the Air National Guard because of a sense of duty, but Lt. Col. Alex Haldopolus flies because it’s his passion.

“The whole mission is to defend the northeastern corridor if you will, big cities in that corridor: New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, all those towns,” said Lt. Col. Haldopoulos of the 104th fighter wing.

WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields reports.

The F-15 is the nation’s first line of air defense. It’s a serious business, but once a year, Lt. Col. Haldopoulos leads four of the F-15’s on a mission of entertainment.

The flyby at the Pops pretty much kicks off the fireworks. They start in New York and end up in Boston.

“The Boston Pops flyby, this is probably the fourth or fifth time I’ve done it, it’s my favorite. You can actually look down and see all the people lining the Charles River,” said Col. Haldopoulos.

All of that flying from New York to Springfield to Boston is actually a part of mandatory training for the pilots. But, what’s not mandatory is their patriotic feelings of doing it on the Fourth of July.

“We want the crowd to see that we’re here to defend the northeast. We’re here to do our mission,” said Lt. Col. Haldopoulos.

It’s a training mission, but it’s about as fun as you can get if you’re a pilot: showing off your patriotism in an F-15.

You can watch the celebration on WBZ-TV beginning at 8 p.m., or listen to the festivities on WBZ NewsRadio 1030, beginning at 7 p.m.


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