Super Bowl LV fighter jet flyover in Tampa led by University of Dayton grad

Captain Sarah “Gucci” Kociuba will take to the skies just before kickoff of Super Bowl LV Sunday in Tampa, Florida, in the traditional fighter jet flyover. Photo courtesy of Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

Sunday’s Super Bowl LV will have the traditional fighter jet flyover, which will be led by a University of Dayton grad, Captain Sarah “Gucci” Kociuba.

Kociuba, a Cleveland, Ohio, native, graduated from UD in 2012, and was part of the Air Force ROTC program while a Flyer. She has now flown over 90 combat missions and more than 1,700 flying hours.

“I’m very humbled to be chosen to be part of this formation and to lead it,” Kociuba said in an interview with KSLA-TV.

In the formation, Kociuba will be flanked in a triangular formation by B-1 and B-52, while she pilots the B-2 Spirit, the model of jet which ignited her desire to take to the skies. (The combination of models adds up to 55 – for Super Bowl LV – and is a “first-of-its-kind-trifecta,” according to WSOC-TV.)

“When I was little I went to a lot of air shows and I really loved seeing the jets as a little kid,” Kociuba said. “When I was 11 my parents took me to the Rose Bowl parade and I got to see the B-2 flyover then.

“We heard it first – it has a very distinct engine sound – then we saw it. I didn’t know what kind of plane it was,” Kociuba remembers. “My dad told me, ‘That’s the B-2.’

“I was awestruck and mesmerized by the jet. I am very excited to be on the other end of this now and be the pilot leading the formation. Hopefully just seeing the jets, seeing this awesome formation of bombers together will inspire some kids out there and young adults to potentially do this as well like it did for me.”

Kociuba grew up watching her dad and two uncles fly as private pilots, according to an article from Whiteman Air Force Base, where she went to train after going to Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi – where she learned to fly KC-10’s – after graduating from UD.

During this time of training, she maintained her ambition to fly the most unique airplane she had ever seen, she told Whiteman Air Force Base.

She has also learned to embrace her isolating experience as a female pilot in a male-dominated industry – she asked, “Where are all the girls?” when she started B-2 pilot training – and hopes it is evidence for other females that they can reach the same heights. 

In July of 2017, Kociuba became the eighth female B-2 pilot. Now, she teaches B-2 pilot lessons and will lead the fighter jet flyover at the Super Bowl.

UD recognized Kociuba and the flyover in a tweet Sunday morning.

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