Formation Flights Will Honor Health Care Workers During COVID-19 Crisis.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have announced their schedule of flyovers in recognition of health care, first responder, law enforcement and all front-line personnel during the COVID-19 crisis for Tuesday, April 28, 2020. It is the first of a series of upcoming dedication flyovers to take place around the U.S. with additional cities and schedules to be announced.
According to a press release from the Air Force Thunderbirds on Monday, April 27, the first of the series of flyovers on Tuesday, April 28 will include, “Flyovers in Newark, New York City and surrounding boroughs will start at noon (EST) and last approximately 35 minutes. Flyovers in Trenton will start at 1:45 p.m. (EST) and last approximately 10 minutes. Flyovers in Philadelphia will start at 2 p.m. (EST and last approximately 20 minutes.”
As The War Zone was among the first outlets to report, the U.S. premier aerial demonstration teams had flown a rare cooperative training event at the Blue Angels’ home base at NAS Pensacola in Florida in what appeared to be the one of the first signs of secretive preparations for some form of nation-wide morale-boosting event.
The flyovers will include 12 aircraft in the demonstration formation, six USAF F-16 Fighting Falcons of the Thunderbirds in their distinctive red, white and blue color schemes, and six U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets in their unique navy blue and gold liveries. It is unusual to see the two teams fly together in formation, making these tribute events to frontline COVID-19 workers unique. It is also likely additional aircraft may accompany the Blue Angel/Thunderbird dedication formation as camera aircraft.
The Air Force and Navy have reminded people viewing the dedication flyovers to maintain social distancing guidelines and mask use while outside viewing the aircraft. Both the team’s public affairs officials went on to ask that spectators, “should also refrain from traveling to landmarks, hospitals and gathering in large groups to view the flyover.”
To break down the schedule based on the official press release: The formation is scheduled to appear over Newark at the George Washington Bridge at 12:00 noon. This segment is planned to include several passes at the northwest side of Manhattan. From there the formation will fly over Brooklyn in several planned passes between 12:05-12:20 p.m. (EST). The aircraft formation will approach from different directions (see map) during this time providing excellent photo opportunities. From here the 12-plane formation will begin a large circuit over Hempstead, Bay Shore, Long Island, Stamford, White Plains, and then back between Manhattan and Brooklyn at approximately 12:40 p.m. to finish.
Local weather forecasts for the flyover are excellent, with light winds, scattered clouds and temperatures reaching a high of 65° F (18° C) during the day.
In a press release issued by the Air Force today, Thunderbird 1 and mission commander Col. John Caldwell said, “We are truly excited to take to the skies with our Navy counterparts for a nation-wide tribute to the men and women keeping our communities safe. We hope to give Americans a touching display of American resolve that honors those serving on the frontline of our fight with COVID-19.”
U.S. Navy Blue Angel commander Cmdr. Brian Kesselring said in the press release, “We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to salute those working on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, we are in awe of your strength and resilience. Thank you to all of those in essential industries keeping our nation moving forward. We will get through this. We are all in this together.”
The ongoing series of dedication formation flyovers, named “America Strong” will continue around the U.S. at additional venues to be announced. The Air Force and Navy have asked that people sharing their images on social media include the hashtag, #AmericaStrong