Flyovers and Football: DOD Has a Super-Sized Super Bowl Week

The flags were presented by the U.S. Armed Forces Color Guard during the national anthem, and the Navy flyover was witnessed by almost the same number of individuals, implying that approximately 113 million individuals worldwide observed Super Bowl LVII.

What you may be unaware of is that the Defense Department plays a significantly wider role in one of the most popular global sports events.

Throughout the week, all branches and members of the service got a chance to meet and partake in various festivities in Glendale, Arizona, including schools local and the nearby Luke Air Force Base, leading up to the big game.

To commemorate 50 years of women in naval aviation, this year’s flyover featured an all-female team flying in formation over the stadium, which included an F-35C Lightning II, two FA-18F Super Hornets, and an EA-18G Growler.

Naomi Lt. Navy, a pilot of the Super F/A-18F Hornet in the 122 Fighter Strike Squadron based in Lemoore, California, expressed her excitement to be a part of this team and to inspire the next generation of female aviators.

Navy Lieutenant Peggy Dente, a pilot flying the EA-18G Growler for Electronic Attack Squadron 129 based in Oak Harbor, Washington, expressed, “I am truly privileged to be present at this momentous occasion in history. It is an honor to contribute and I am sincerely thankful for this opportunity.”

Before the big day, even some farmers from the NFL Hall will meet with aircrew and pilots to check out the aircraft. Students from local schools also got the opportunity to talk to the pilots. The aviators spent the week at Air Force Base Luke, meeting with civilian leaders, community leaders, and their partners in the Air Force. This was all in preparation for the Celebration Bowl, a pre-Super Bowl event. During the game, while four others served as alternates, seven pilots flew. Among the 11 chosen pilots for the mission, Dente and Ngalle were two of them.

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She said Zimmerman experienced nearly five G-forces. Lt. Cmdr. Calli Hobbs, a Navy pilot, took Zimmerman up for about an hour, performing basic maneuvers like wingovers and barrel rolls. Katie Hobbs, the Governor of Arizona, was fortunate enough to also get a ride in an F/A-18E Super Hornet, along with some other individuals.

“I only threw up twice,” Hobbs joked. “It was pretty amazing.”.Output: “I only vomited twice,” Hobbs joked. “It was quite astonishing.”

The aviators, their backups, and the airline staff–who all played a part in the accomplishment of the mission–were all acknowledged during the third period of the match.

At the stadium, the Color Guard of the U.S. Armed Forces displayed the flags while the national anthem played, marking yet another significant military occasion. They had practiced diligently throughout the week in preparation for this momentous event.

In 1972, Joellen Oslund became the first woman helicopter pilot in the service, participating in naval flight training. She also joined other historical figures in the weeklong celebration.

Maj. Sgt. Thomas Payne and Capt. Gary Rose, along with Lt. Navy Michael Thornton and Lt. Navy Retired Thomas Norris, who were all recipients of the Medal of Honor, participated in a discussion panel at Luke Air Force Base. During the panel, they shared their experiences with other airmen, as well as their families.

Gronkowski, the analyst-turned-superstar in the NFL, will meet with recipients of the Medal of Honor who made it to the rounds of the Super Bowl later this week.

Additionally, the Super Bowl was not the sole championship occurring. At the beginning of the week, the 2nd yearly championship of the USA Wheelchair Football League was held at Luke Air Force Base. The league, founded in 2019 to cater to athletes with disabilities, features participants who expressed their involvement for the sense of companionship, excitement, and rivalry.

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Bart Salgado, a Marine who served in Desert Storm and Somalia and has been participating in wheelchair football for almost 22 years, exclaimed, “I attended my initial practice, and I was captivated.”

“Expressed Matthew Scholten, a 20-year Army veteran who has been participating in the Kansas City league for a duration of two years, ‘The aspect of the game that I enjoy the most is the physical nature of it. I have the opportunity to engage in competition and make contact with individuals. It is truly an enjoyable experience.'”

Before the big game, the pilots were asked what advice they would give to young girls who want to be aviators and what they would want and watch for someday. But they wanted to go back…

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Ngalle stated, “That was a challenge I initially faced due to the arduous nature of flight training. [You must] possess the capacity to accept constructive feedback.” “However, it is important to realize that nobody intends harm towards you. They are solely dedicated to helping you become the finest pilot you can possibly be.”

In Las Vegas, a few of them will be prepared to repeat the experience for Super Bowl LVIII. However, you can be confident that, by this time next year, the military teams of the Defense Department returned to their duties worldwide following the conclusion of the major event.

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