MacDill uses Super Bowl LV flyover to promote diversity with future leaders

  • Published
  • By Terry Montrose
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing chief of community relations

Tampa Bay students visited MacDill Air Force Base Feb. 5 to learn about the Air Force aircraft scheduled to fly over Raymond James Stadium during Super Bowl LV.

Twenty-two students from Hillsborough High School, Robinson High School and Plant High School met with aircrews and toured a B-1B Lancer bomber from the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess AFB, Texas and a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from the 6th Air Refueling Wing, MacDill AFB.

The tour provided both male and female students from diverse multi-ethnic backgrounds in the community the opportunity to learn about the Air Force mission while sitting in the aircraft’s cockpit and visualizing themselves soaring at 35,000 feet in the air.

“You just don’t get to see bombers like this,” said Kaliyah Wilder, a junior at Plant High School, “I want to be an Air Force pilot and this is something I wanted to do my entire life.”

MacDill leaders invited the students to the base as part of the 6th Operation Group’s Aviation Inspired Mentorship program to inspire them to become the next generation of pilots that the Air Force desperately needs in the future.

“This is an opportunity for us to get youth from diverse backgrounds in our community closer to Air Force aircraft and aviators,” said Col. Benjamin Jonsson, 6th ARW commander “Maybe they will consider this is something they can do, maybe we put a dream in their heart.”

The AIM program was created for operations group members to align with local schools to share their experiences. The AIM team is comprised of rated officers from every aircraft platform in the Air Force inventory. In itself, the AIM team is diverse and allows youth to find a mentor who may come from a similar background and have overcome similar struggles.

Ensuring aspiring aviators that they are not alone in life’s struggles and providing advice on how to find resilience when overcoming obstacles is the main goal of the AIM team mentorship program.

Three different Air Force Global Strike Command bombers will conduct a first-of-its-kind trifecta flyover during the National Anthem performance at the 55th Super Bowl, Feb. 7, over Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

The aircraft will take off for the Super Bowl flyover from their respective bases, join up for the flyover, and return to base following the event, demonstrating the flexibility of AFGSC’s bombers and their ability to deploy anywhere in the world from the continental United States.

Two KC-135 Stratotankers from MacDill will refuel the bombers before the flyover.

Carrying the largest conventional payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory, the multi-mission B-1 is the backbone of America's long-range bomber force. It can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time.

The KC-135 Stratotanker provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 60 years. This unique asset enhances the Air Force's capability to accomplish its primary mission of global reach. It also provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft. The KC-135 is also capable of transporting litter and ambulatory patients using patient support pallets during aeromedical evacuations.

The Air Force performs 1,000 flyovers annually that highlight the capabilities of its aircraft while also inspiring patriotism and future generations of aviation enthusiasts.

While watching the National Anthem during the Super Bowl, the students may reflect on how they were able to learn about the aircraft that thrilled millions across the world during the Super Bowl and maybe become Air Force pilots in the future.