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NASA pilot flies plane wearing Pittsburgh Steelers-themed helmet

Brian Jones Profile Picby:Brian Jones04/18/24


steelers helmet
USA Today

A NASA pilot is ready for the Pittsburgh Steelers to kick off the 2024 season. Nils Larson was recently photographed flying the NASA T-34C while wearing his pilot helmet with the Steelers logo visible. NASA photographer Jim Ross captured the moment which was named NASA Photo of the Year 2023 in the People category this week.

“When we fly proficiency flights, my mind is always thinking about what kind of photo I can take that will share what I am experiencing in the aircraft,” Ross said, per “This photo was one that I feel is able to tell that story.” 

The Steelers are no strangers to NASA. In 2021, then-Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs who graduated from Tennessee with a degree in aerospace engineering hosted a space talk with NASA called “Space is for Everyone.” Dobbs led the conversation with four astronauts who spent six months on the International Space Station.

“It’s really exciting because they’re at the forefront of it. They just spent six months in space,” Dobbs said at the time. “They were the first crew to be launched, and then they were able to receive the second crew as well during their time at the space station. They’re at the forefront of it. They’re around the industry. They live down in Space Coast so it’s cool to get the inside scoop on what’s it like just to be an astronaut.”

The Steelers are ready to take the next step with Russell Wilson

Despite inconsistent quarterback play, the Steelers are looking to build on a productive 2023 season. They finished 10-7 and lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs. This offseason, the Steelers signed Russell Wilson to give the team a boost at the QB position. In an interview with Essence magazine, Wilson shared his excitement about playing for head coach Mike Tomlin.

“To be able to play for Mike Tomlin; to stand side by side with him and try to accomplish all the goals that I want to accomplish with the Steelers organization, and what that represents for the NFL, is one of the greatest gifts in the world,” Wilson said.

The Steelers haven’t won a Super Bowl since the 2008 season but have been a consistent franchise since Tomlin took over in 2007. During that time, the Steelers haven’t had a losing season and have reached the postseason 11 times.