UPDATE: This feature has been updated with Tuesday’s schedule.
PENSACOLA, Fla. — The Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds announced Friday that several joint flyovers across the United States will begin Tuesday to salute healthcare professionals and the military.
Operation America Strong will see each squadron fly a six-jet delta formation either together or separately. Some U.S. cities will see one squadron, while the larger cities will have both perform side-by-side.
“Flyovers in Newark, New York City, and surrounding boroughs will start at noon, and last approximately 35 minutes,” The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels announced on Saturday. “Flyovers in Trenton will start at 1:45 p.m. and last approximately 10 minutes. Flyovers in Philadelphia will start at 2 p.m. and last approximately 20 minutes.”
The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels will fly across select areas hit the hardest by COVID-19. The complete schedule with locations is expected by this Wednesday. Each team flight will occur every one-to-two days until the middle of May.
“We’re excited to fly over cities across America as our way of saying thanks to the healthcare workers, first responders, and all the people who selflessly run into the breach working to keep America strong,” Gen. Dave Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and Adm. Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, said in a joint release Friday. “This is also our way of showing that we are all in this together and that America’s spirit will prevail.”
In the release, the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds laid out several flyover guidelines. The extended flyovers are designed to avoid contact with military bases and the public.
“Both teams are implementing various measures to maintain personnel and community safety,” the joint team release said. “This includes air-to-air refueling during transit and no scheduled stops en route to reduce potential exposure to the virus.”
The Thunderbirds departed their home at Las Vegas on April 20 to fly cross country to NAS Pensacola — the home of the Blue Angels. The two teams spent the week performing a series of practice flights from the air base.
“For two demo teams with two different branches there’s a friendly rivalry there, but really we have the same mission,” Thunderbird Lead Solo pilot Maj. Michelle Curran said recently. “For us to be able to come down here to the Blue Angels home turf is huge for both teams in learning.”
On Wednesday, the Thunderbirds added red, white, and blue smoke to their formation and solo practices. Both squadrons have always used white smoke during air show performances.
America’s air show season may be grounded, but the Thunderbirds have not. Since April 11, the Air Force squadron has conducted two separate extended public flyovers of Las Vegas and Colorado.
Updated Flyover Schedule (EDT):
- April 28… Newark, NJ / New York City ….. 12 p.m.
- April 28… Trenton, NJ ………………………………… 1:45 p.m.
- April 28… Philadelphia ……………………………….. 2 p.m.
Ed. note: AvGeekery.com will update this story to include the complete flyover schedule.
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)