Steve Hinton has no shortage of aviation notches on his belt, but leading an Air Force Heritage Flight to conclude the National Anthem and kick off a Super Bowl was a new one for him.
Steve, EAA 181203, said it was an honor to participate in the flyover, although he was quick to point out how much bigger the event was than about any one individual involved in it.
“It’s not about me in any way,” he said. “It’s all about the Air Force and our veterans who have served in the past, and the current military personnel and all the sacrifices they give, to try and remember that story — where we came from and where we are.”
The historic flyover was made possible by the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, which Steve has been a member of for 20 years. The flights are flown by a mix of 10 civilian pilots flying warbirds in formation with modern U.S. Air Force aircraft.
The foundation typically makes between 40 and 60 heritage flights each year, with the goal of offering an educational, living museum of U.S. Air Force history while celebrating and honoring both active and veteran service members.
At this year’s Super Bowl, Steve led the diamond formation in the P-51 Sierra Sue II, which saw duty in World War II, followed by an F-16 and two A-10s.
He said making sure the team’s timing was perfect was a demanding experience.
“Trying to get our flight exactly on time at the ending of Pink’s performance, that was very challenging,” Steve said. “I would say as challenging as anything I’d ever done honestly. There was so much pressure on us to make it a good showing for the foundation and the Air Force.”
Members of the flyover team were offered tickets to the game, Steve included, but he felt like his would be better off with someone else, giving it up to a military member who was working on the ramp and servicing the airplanes for the flight.
Steve said his role in the event was small compared to its overall purpose.
“I’m glad to be a part of it, but we’re just trying to continue telling the story of the Air Force and our veterans and our service people that continue to sacrifice,” Steve said. “That’s what our country is built from.”
photo by DeKevin Thornton