Forget football: This year’s Super Bowl was an AvGeek’s dream

Feb 8, 2021

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From military flyovers to private jet flights to charters critical to getting players to the game, aviation plays an outsized role at every Super Bowl, just as it did this weekend in Tampa, Florida.

Personally, I was most excited about the chance to see some of the country’s most famous military planes — the U.S. Air Force marked the occasion with a very special flyover, with aircraft joining from around the country. This year’s participants included:

  • B-1 Lancer from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota
  • B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri
  • B-52 Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota

On Sunday, Captain Sarah Kociuba, one of just 10 female pilots currently flying the B-2 Spirit, served as the first female pilot to lead a Super Bowl flyover.

While it was surely a sight to behold for attendees, Photographer Mike Killian captured the most incredible photos I’ve seen of the event — and he didn’t even have to spring for a ticket to the game.

Killian is also making the photos available for purchase, with pricing listed on his website. I’m eyeing at least one of his shots for my wall just as soon as I can find some room!

While all three aircraft have the range to support intercontinental missions, the Air Force used Sunday’s flyover to practice inflight refueling — which naturally led to even more spectacular photos, and an exciting moment for any AvGeek.

Many attendees also had an opportunity to flex their aviation might — deep-pocketed fans from around the U.S. chartered private jets (or used their own planes) to get to the game.

Aircraft ranged from the relatively giant Boeing 737 that carried Peyton Manning to Tampa (TPA), pictured above, to light jets like the Embraer Phenom 300E I got to experience enroute to Miami’s “big game” in 2020.

And it isn’t just spectators who got to ride in style. The Kansas City Chiefs hitched a ride onboard a recently retrofitted United 777-200ER, including two Polaris business-class cabins, offering players a total of 50 lie-flat seats.

Those lucky enough to score a biz seat certainly didn’t have to rough it on the two-hour flight to Tampa. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Coaches and other support staff likely landed a seat in Premium Plus or coach, with the rest of the group making their way down in a United 737, which arrived in Tampa just a few minutes after the team’s arguably more-exciting long-haul plane.

Featured photo courtesy of Mike Killian.

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