When the National Anthem concludes and the crowd cheers, Lieutenant Arielle Ash will scream across the sky in an F-18 Super Hornet, kicking off Super Bowl LVII.
Lt. Ash is the lead aviator of a historic, all-female formation of four tactical naval aircraft, which is part of the Super Bowl’s commemoration of 50 years of women flying in the U.S. Navy.
Lt. Ash (formerly Hall) graduated from Wylie High School in 2008 and then attended Texas Tech where she earned a degree in public relations. It wasn’t until after graduating from college that she decided to join the Navy. Lt. Ash said she had always been interested in flying but made the decision to go for it in 2014.
“I decided I wanted to do something different, so I applied to the Navy,” she said. “I wanted to see if I could fly a jet.”
After receiving a pilot slot in 2015, Lt. Ash completed a three-year training process to earn her “wings of gold”. In 2018, she headed to Naval Air Station Lemoore in California where she trained for another two years to fly the F-18. Then 2021, Lt. Ash completed an eight-and-a-half-month carrier deployment in the West Pacific. Today, she is back at Lemoore as an instructor, teaching “newly winged” aviators to fly the F-18.
The Super Bowl is the second football game for Lt. Ash to lead a flyover. Texas Tech fans would have seen her at the football game this past fall when Texas Tech beat Texas 37-34 in overtime with a field goal.
“We beat the Longhorns in overtime my freshman year at Tech, so to do the flyover and attend the game this past fall was incredible.”
As for conducting the flyover for the largest venue in football, Lt. Ash said she is grateful for the opportunity and enjoying the experience.
“It’s an honor,” said Lt. Ash. “Phoenix is great and so is getting to meet people from the community, the people organizing the Super Bowl, and meeting fellow military members.”
Lt. Ash has not met fellow Texan and Texas Tech alumni Patrick Mahomes, the quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. “I hope I do. I was looking for Rihanna when I was on the football field working with the production crew on timing for the flyover” she said with a laugh. Rihanna is slated to perform the half-time show for the Super Bowl.
Lt. Ash said Wylie was where she formed life-long friendships. “I’m still close to my friends from high school,” she said. “We were roommates in college and are still best friends.”
Her advice for Wylie students is to work hard and never give up. Lt. Ash said she was a public relations professional who did not like math. She was often told that to be a pilot she needed to be math and science minded.
“Whether it’s this [becoming a fighter pilot] or anything, work hard and put your mind to it. If someone says no, keep trying. Keep working hard anyway.”
Lt. Ash has done exactly that – worked hard to earn an incredibly difficult job that protects our freedoms. She is the real “Maverick” and without a doubt gives us another reason to proud to be Wylie Bulldogs.
By Kristen Johnson