▶ Watch Video: Super Bowl flyover features all-women team of pilots
Just before kickoff on Super Bowl Sunday, fans at State Farm Stadium in Arizona will be treated to a first: A U.S. Navy flyover piloted by seven women to commemorate 50 years since women were allowed to become U.S. Navy pilots.
Right after the national anthem in the game that will pit the Philadelphia Eagles against the Kansas City Chiefs, Lt. Peggy Dente will conduct the flyover, which will be her first.
“I think it’d be crazy if you weren’t a little bit nervous, but a little bit of nerves keeps you honest, keeps you humble and keeps you focused on the mission, Dente told CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave.
It wasn’t until 1973 that eight women were the first allowed to enter flight school. Six of them earned their wings. About a year after graduating, Rosemary Mariner became the first woman assigned to pilot a U.S. Navy fighter. Now, women make up about 15% of naval aviators.
“It’s not lost on me how special it is that I get to do what I’m doing today because they did it first,” Dente said.
Some of the NFL’s greats have also recognized the significance of this Super Bowl pregame feat. Several Hall of Famers visited the pilots and their support crews on Thursday to thank them for their service.
“It’s definitely a huge honor to be asked to do this and to celebrate those women that have paved this way for all of us,” said Lt. Arielle Ash.
Ash and Lt. Saree Moreno will be leading the diamond formation on Sunday.
“We’re used to the mission,” Moreno said. “Maybe not so much used to the publicity.”
The pilots have had a few weeks to prepare, including a Friday practice. Dente fell in love with aviation as a child after learning to fly with her father. The inspiration to join the U.S. Navy came from her grandfather, who flew helicopters in Vietnam.
Now, Dente gets to inspire a new generation of aviators.
“I think it’s a message not just to young girls, but to young people that they can do whatever they set their mind to,” she said. “And if they want to be a jet pilot, that is well within possibility for them.”