January 31, 2014–Football and Equestrian fans alike are rejoicing that Thunder, the much loved mascot of the Denver Broncos, will be onsite for the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII, to be held this Sunday, February 2nd at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Thunder, a purebred Arabian who has held the position as Denver Broncos’ mascot since September of 2004, made his first flight today to make his appearance possible. Thunder is the second Arabian to hold the honor of mascot for the team and is owned by Sharon Magness Blake of Englewood, Colorado. Thunder, whose registered name is Winter Solstyce, was born in 1994 and is ridden and trained by Ann Judge-Wegener of Bennett, Colorado.
While horses flying in airplanes may seem like a strange occurrence to many who will be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday, Tim Dutta, from the Dutta Corporation located in North Salem, NY, has built a business based around just that. The Dutta Corporation has been flying horses around the world since 1988 and is the Official Air Transportation Provider for U.S. Equestrian Teams. In addition to shipping horses to Pan American Games and World Championships, The Dutta Corp has also delivered horses to Olympic Games for the US Equestrian Team including the most recent travels to the London Games in 2012. Thunder is the first National Football League mascot to fly under the Dutta Corporation’s management. “My team and I are honored to be able to work the Thunder’s fabulous team of caretakers, and the Denver Broncos to give Thunder a first class ride to the Super Bowl,” said Dutta.
Horses travel securely in what is known as a “JetStall,” which are loaded aboard a variety of planes including Boeing 747s and 777s. Several airlines fly horses, including KLM and Lufthansa, however Thunder’s flight across country will be provided by FedEx. Thunder will be flying in a double stall and have the container to himself, providing him with the horse equivalent of first class. The double stall in his “JetStall” will provide Thunder a roomy 45″x91″ area for the flight.
Thunder was accompanied on the flight by Cathy Martin of the Dutta Corp. Martin has been flying with horses for many years and was able to ensure Thunder had a safe and comfortable flight from Denver, CO to Newark, NJ. She will also travel with him on his return flight after the game.
Despite this being Thunder’s first flight, Thunder adjusted to travelling the skies without difficulty. “Most horses adjust easily to flying and the whole process is set up to be safe and comfortable for the animals,” said Dutta. During the flight, Thunder was given hay and water and the temperature in his JetStall was around a comfortable 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Another trick to ensure smooth travels for horses is the utilization of “mood lighting,” where the lights are dimmed during the flight to help keep the horses calm. Flights will also occasionally be delayed or rerouted in order to avoid unnecessary turbulence.
The much loved grey gelding, who is used to getting apples and carrots from caterers in his home stadium, will be hoping for a similar welcome upon his arrival in New Jersey. Although Thunder most likely won’t be performing his trademark canter from end zone to end zone during the Super Bowl, many fans consider his presence alone to be good luck for the team. Whether Thunder’s presence is enough to guarantee a victory for the Broncos over the Seahawks this weekend remains to be seen.
Founded in 1988 by J. Tim Dutta, The Dutta Corp is a global leader in the business of equestrian air transportation with a world-wide reputation for excellence. The Dutta Corp. stands apart from its completion because their core mission is to place your horse’s needs above all else, and set the standards for equine air travel. The Dutta Corp. knows that horses are so much more than just freight to be moved, and caters to owners needs and destinations. The Dutta Corp. offers a regular weekly flights, charter flights, or custom flight services. The air fleet consists of the Boeing 747, 777-200 F, MD-11, KLM, Lufthansa, Martin Air, El Al, FEDEX, Cargolux, Atlas and Cneturion.
The Dutta Corp is proud to transport horses to and from the Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, World Cup Finals, Spruce Meadows, the Winter Equestrian Festival and is the Official International Air Transportation Company for United States Equestrian Teams.
The Dutta Corp.
509 Route 22
North Salem, NY 10560