Super Bowl

The All-Female Pilot Team Made Historic Flyover at the Super Bowl

Flyovers and Football: DOD Has a Super-Sized Super Bowl Week About 113 million people around the world watched Super Bowl LVII, which means that nearly that many saw the Navy flyover and presentation of the flags by the U.S. Armed Forces Color Guard during the national anthem. But what you might not know is that the Defense Department has a much broader role in one of the most watched sporting events in the world. Throughout the week leading up to the big game, service members and veterans from all branches got a chance to meet with the community and partake in various festivities in Glendale, Arizona, at nearby Luke Air Force Base and at local schools.
This year, the flyover celebrated 50 years of women in naval aviation by having an all-female team fly in formation over the stadium in an F-35C Lightning II, two FA-18F Super Hornets and an EA-18G Growler. “I’m excited to be a part of this team and inspire the next generation of female aviators,” said Navy Lt. Naomi Ngalle, an F/A-18F Super Hornet pilot with Strike Fighter Squadron 122 out of Lemoore, California. “I just feel honored to be here, honored to be a part of this exciting moment in history, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity,” said Navy Lt. Peggy Dente, an EA-18G Growler pilot with Electronic Attack Squadron 129 out of Oak Harbor, Washington. Ngalle and Dente were two of the 11 pilots chosen for the mission. Seven flew during the game, while four others served as alternates. Before the big day, though, the aviators spent the week at Luke Air Force Base meeting with their Air Force partners, the Air Force community and civilian leaders for a pre-Super Bowl celebration. Students from local schools also got to check out the aircraft, talk with pilots and aircrew and even meet with some NFL Hall of Famers. Some lucky folks, including Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, even got to ride in an F/A-18E Super Hornet. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Calli Zimmerman took Hobbs up for about an hour, doing basic maneuvers such as barrel rolls and wingovers. Zimmerman said she almost got up to five G-forces. “I only threw up twice,” Hobbs joked. “It was pretty amazing.” The pilots, their backups and the aircrew—who all helped make the mission successful—were all honored during the game’s third quarter. Before the big game, several of the pilots were asked what their advice would be to young girls watching them and wanting to do what they do someday. “Resiliency is key. You can’t just give up at the first roadblock,” said Navy Lt. Caitie Perkowsi, an F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot with Strike Fighter Squadron 122. “Keep your head down, keep pushing for what you want, and don’t let anyone tell you [that] you can’t do it.” “[You need] to be able to take criticism. That was something I struggled with initially just because flight training is very difficult,” Ngalle said. “But you have to understand that no one is out to get you. They’re just trying to make you the best aviator you can be.” After the big game was over, the Defense Department’s military crews got back to their missions across the world. But rest assured that, come this time next year, some of them will be ready to do it all again for Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas! Images: © Chanda Johnson, DOD, Fred Brown, DOD, U.S.Department of Defence All pilots Female pilots

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