KSLA Salutes: Ellsworth AFB bomber to join Super Bowl flyover
ELLSWORTH AFB, S.Dak. (KSLA) - This Super Bowl Sunday millions will be watching as a trio of Air Force bombers fly nearly 300 mph over Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida in a pregame tradition unlike any other.
Leading the flyover is Captain Sarah Kociuba. She will fly the B-2 Spirit out of Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
Captain Colter Huyler, who will pilot the B-52 out of Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
Major Michael Webster from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota will pilot the B-1B Lancer.
“It’s going to be the first time we will have a tri-bomber flyover for the Super Bowl,” Webster said. “It’s a huge deal getting all of the Air Force Global Strike platforms in the same air space and the Super Bowl, of course, is a big deal.”
Webster is a WSO, or weapon system officer for the B-1. He’s been in the Air Force for over 10 years. He went through training down in Pensacola, FL. This is his second tour in the B-1. He has also flown with the Navy in the EA-18G Growler.
“My commander asked for volunteers,” Webster said. “I raised my hand immediately and I was just the lucky one chosen. It’s a great opportunity. It’s the Super Bowl, I’m a huge football fan, so getting to be a part of this historic event is a great opportunity. So I was excited to volunteer and put my name out there.”
Webster and the B-1 crew from the 37th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth AFB has been preparing since December.
“It’s been going on for a couple months,” Webster said. “I’ve been working with the aerial events coordinator with the Air Force and he has been working with the FAA to make sure all the airspace is good to go. Through my end, I’ve been working with the other aircraft, the B-2 and the B-52, their flight leads, coming up with a game plan on how we are going to launch and meet up, be in the right place and the right time to get the timing right for the Super Bowl.”
The flyover will serve as ‘time-over-target’ training for the pilots and crews. In this instance, making sure all three bombers meet over the Gulf of Mexico in the “whiskey area”, or restricted air space, and flying over the stadium during the national anthem.
“It’s training that we do every flight,” Webster said. “Whether it’s a local sortie (military mission) or full-blown exercise it’s a big part of what we do to make sure that we are over our target when we need to be there. A lot of other platforms are planning on us being where we need to be. Whether it’s during a mission or just aerial refueling, making sure we are in the right pace at the right time to execute the mission.”
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