MIAMI – As is traditional, the Super Bowl LV will have a US Air Force flyover before the game starts. This year, for the first time ever, this flyover will be lead by a woman. As a female airline Pilot, this story really tickles my fancy so I couldn’t wait to write about it!
This woman is one of only 10 of the US Air Force’s B-2 Pilots. Her name is Captain Sarah Kociuba and her history is nothing less than impressive. She is a flight instructor on the B-2 and has flown over 90 combat missions.
Kociuba says to be humbled by the honor of leading the flyover and her mission is to inspire more girls and boys to become Pilots. I bow to you, Captain Kociuba!
These impressive flyovers never disappoint, and are planned to precision to be perfectly synchronized as the Star-Spangled Banner plays inside the stadium. These types of missions take weeks to plan and practice for, flying low, close together information and at over 300 MPH!
In this case, the three aircraft used, are the B-1B Lancer, Captain Kociuba’s B-2 Spirit (also known as the Stealth Bomber) and the B-52 Stratofortress. The aircraft will come from three different states, thousands of miles away; South Dakota, Missouri and North Dakota, respectively.
They will be accompanied by a Tampa-based KC-135 Stratotanker for refueling purposes. The aircraft will meet in military airspace above the Gulf of Mexico at a specific time and from there will make their way over to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium where they will do their flyover before heading back to their respective bases.
FAA Temporary Flight Restriction
As is usual during large sporting events, there will be a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over and around the stadium. This restricts commercial and private aircraft to fly in and out of the area without specific FAA permission. If the TFR limitations are invaded without permission, Pilots and drone operators could face civil penalties that exceed $30,000.
Flight limitations will cover a 30-nautical-mile (34.5-mile) ring, centered over the stadium and from the ground up to 18,000 feet in altitude. The TFR will be effective today starting at about 5:30 pm EST as is indicated in the Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) 1/9665. It will expire at 11:59 pm EST but could be extended. Drones also are prohibited inside the TFR.
As such, the TFR and No Drone Zone will limit operations around Raymond James Stadium before, during and after the game. Tampa International Airport (TPA) is receiving extra landings and departures for the sporting event. The FAA measures will not affect the schedule of commercial flights at TPA. Emergency, medical, public safety and military operations may fly in the TFR while it is in place.
One extra little detail, this mission also includes training sessions on their way back, so the Pilots won’t arrive to home base till long after the Super Bowl has finished, as this is an eight hour long mission. Even though we usually only cover commercial aviation, we at Airways are honored to cover this first from Captain Sarah Kociuba.
Featured image: Flyover TPA. Photo: U.S. Air Force via Twitter