City uses Russian jet ahead of Super Bowl flyover
Advertising the flyover of the US Air Force’s demonstration team during Sunday’s Super Bowl game, the California city of Santa Monica used a stock photo of a Russian MiG-29 jet, prompting widespread mockery on Twitter.
Military pageantry is part and parcel of National Football League (NFL) events, with the final game usually preceded by USAF or Navy jets parading in the sky.
Sunday’s game was played in Inglewood, where the home-field Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals on their home turf.
The nearby Santa Monica alerted its residents of the flyover about half an hour ahead of time. Unfortunately, the person in charge of the city’s Twitter account chose to illustrate the announcement with a stock photo of the MiG-29, a Russian fighter jet very much not in service with any branch of the US military.
Keen-eyed Twitter users quickly ratioed the replies, pointing out that actually seeing such a plane over Santa Monica would amount to “a state of war” and urging anyone to alert the Air Force if they actually spot one.
“C’mon people... we're talking Santa Monica!” one user jested. “That USED to be a Russian MiG (and most of us still think it is) but it now self-identifies as a F-35 Lightning, so the joke’s on all y’all!!”
When the flyover actually happened, half an hour later, no MiG-29s were spotted in the sky. Instead, the USAF sent one each of the F-35, F-22, and F-16 fighters, an A-10 ground attack plane, as well as a WWII-vintage P-51D, flying point.
This is not the first time in recent years that stock images of Russian planes – and even ships – have been used in social media messaging referring to the US military. Back in October 2021, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) used a photo of a Russian cruiser in a birthday card to the US Navy. Two years prior, a member of Congress had been roasted for using a photo of the very same ship in his birthday card to the Navy, only taken from a different angle.
In September 2021, the NCIS also wished the USAF happy birthday with the silhouettes of Russian Su-34 jets – just like the US Southern Command had. Several months earlier, in April, a US senator wished the Air Force Reserve a happy birthday also using a graphic featuring Russian aircraft.