PENSACOLA, Fla. — The Navy’s Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds performed their first joint public flyovers in the northeast on Tuesday to salute America’s healthcare professionals and the military.
In what was likely the longest single-day journey for both squadrons, the Navy and Air Force jets executed a busy schedule. The combined 15-jets unofficially flew over 2,600 miles (4,184.29 km), during a non-stop seven-hour journey.
Under the blue skies of metropolitan New York, two squadrons flew in two delta formations, smoke-on, beginning at noon EDT. Their expanded flyover began over The Bronx, south to New York City, and around to Newark, NJ.
The jets then flew east to Brooklyn and past the Stature of Liberty before circling over to fly over Long Island. The 40-minute salute concluded with a long pass from Long Island Sound to White Plains and south over New York City.
Flying at about 400 m.p.h., each aircraft flew in close formation above crowds lining city streets and roof tops. Applause and cheers from the crowds welcomed the America’s two military jet aerobatic teams.
The pilots were then met by several Air Force KC-135 Stratotankers once an hour for aerial refueling. Each refueling pause allowed the pilots to consume healthy light snacks in their cockpit. There was no stopping on the ground for these aircraft.
“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,” Blue Angels Boss Brian Kesselring said on Monday. “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.”
A second extended flyover began over central New Jersey at 1:45 p.m. The jets flew northwest to Trenton, circled around, and flew south down I-295 to Philadelphia.
Smoke-on, the two delta formations made four passes across Philly’s metropolitan area. The jets then made their way south along the Delaware River to Wilmington at 2:17 p.m. to conclude the day’s events.
The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels are expected to announce the next flyover locations on Wednesday.
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)