Pilot ‘Paints’ Unique Flight Pattern To Celebrate Success Of BYU Athletics

Nov 29, 2021, 4:14 PM | Updated: 4:40 pm
BYU Athletics - Fan Pilot...
Pilot Rich Lighten celebrated the recent success of BYU Athletics by painting a "Y" in the sky. (Photo courtesy of Rich Lighten)
(Photo courtesy of Rich Lighten)

SALT LAKE CITY – BYU athletics just completed an entire month of sporting events with no loss. Yes, every team was undefeated. As a result, BYU called the month “No-Loss November.” So, times have been good for Cougar fans as of late.

One BYU fan, Rich Lighten, a pilot of five years, wanted to celebrate all of the successes of his favorite team in a way that only a pilot could in the air.

On Saturday, November 27, 2021, BYU had a “Super Saturday” of sporting events. The games included football’s trip to USC, men’s and women’s basketball playing games against rival Utah and future Big 12 rival West Virginia respectively, and women’s soccer playing for a chance to advance to their first College Cup at South Field.

To celebrate the big day of BYU sports, Lighten set out a plan to paint a “Y” in the sky.

Lighten departed Salt Lake City International Airport at 11:50 a.m. MST on November 27 and left towards Eastern Utah.


Photo courtesy of Rich Lighten

“I’ve always wanted to write something in the sky,” Lighten said to KSL Sports via text. “And with the big BYU weekend, the timing was perfect. I wanted to do it over Provo, but the airspace, mountains, and the traffic made it too tricky. So I went to Eastern Utah.”

Lighten, who has been flying in the air for ten years, was in an N744CM aircraft. The diehard Cougar fan painted his route on an app called Foreflight. Lighten said he opted to go with a block Y logo over a stretch Y because it “was easier with straight lines and turns.”

Photo courtesy of Rich Lighten

While in the air, Lighten was flying as fast as 200 miles per hour and was facing winds as high as 20 miles per hour, making turns and staying on the course he mapped out on Foreflight tricky.

The final result looked as though Lighten didn’t face any challenges as he put together a clean block Y in the sky.

“I was shocked at how well it turned out having never written in the sky before. Then, with the success of all three teams Saturday, it made for quite a memory,” said Lighten.

Lighten returned to SLC Airport at 2:09 p.m. that afternoon. At that point, the BYU women’s basketball team had already secured a victory against West Virginia to clinch the St. Pete Classic. Later that evening, the other BYU athletics teams completed the winning as women’s soccer advanced to their first-ever College Cup. In addition, men’s basketball defeated Utah, and football completed a comeback victory against USC.

The good times keep rolling for BYU athletics.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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