The U.S. Navy confirmed it “made some changes” to its initial Super Bowl flyover plan, benching several male pilots in favor of an all-female aviator team for the big game festivities.
“The Navy made some changes to the initial lineup of aviators participating in the Super Bowl,” Cmdr. Zach Harrell, spokesperson for the commander of Naval Air Forces, told Premier League TV Digital. “Our intent was always to maximize the participation of our women naval aviators in the flyover to the greatest extent possible to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of women flying in the Navy, and it was an honor to be able to do that Super Bowl LVII.”
It was the first time ever that an all-female team of aviators flew over a Super Bowl, which was held in Glendale, Arizona, this year. The flyover featured two F/A-18F Super Hornets from the Flying Eagles of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122, as well as an F-35C Lightning II from the Argonauts of VFA-147 and an EA 18G Growler from the Vikings of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129.
“Thinking of all the little kids looking up to this team of all-women aviators who conducted the flyover at the Super Bowl tonight,” first lady Jill Biden wrote in an Instagram caption accompanied by a photo of herself with some of the aviators. “What a beautiful celebration to mark 50 years of women in @USNavy aviation.”
SUPER BOWL LVII FLYOVER TO COMMEMORATE 50 YEARS OF WOMEN FLYING IN THE US NAVY
But as the Navy told Premier League TV Digital, this wasn’t always the game plan.
Back on Jan. 27, the Navy published a press release detailing that the flyover would commemorate a 50-year history of women flying in the Navy, but the original lineup only had three women out of the 15 service members originally scheduled, Military.com reported.
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Just days before the Super Bowl, “Good Morning America” did a segment noting all the pilots for the flyover would be women, but made no mention of the Navy’s original plan of having a team of both male and female aviators.
Harrell told Military.com ahead of the big game that seven female aviators would participate in the actual flyover, while nine additional aviators would be on stand-by if there were any need for substitutions.
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Harrell added to the outlet that the Navy always planned on commemorating women in the Navy, but that the military branch encountered logistical obstacles before the game. He noted that the January announcement on the lineup of pilots was “released before we had settled on the final lineup.”
“There are several challenges involved in gathering aviators from several different squadrons, and with women as 20% of the population in the Navy, it makes it harder,” he told Military.com.
Women make up roughly 20% of the Navy overall, but there are only between 7% and 12% women pilots, Military.com reported.
“The whole focus for us is to really put out a lineup that helps us reinforce the message that we are commemorating the women that are serving in naval aviation,” Harrell added.