DENVER, CO — The Air Force Thunderbirds performed a series of flyovers across Colorado on Saturday to honor the COVID-19 health care workers and salute the graduates of the Air Force Academy.
Under overcast skies, America’s Ambassadors in Blue timed the flight with exact precision. Six F-16 Fighting Falcon jets performed a delta formation salute across the Centennial State.
A flyover of Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy at 12:33 p.m. MDT, began the squadron’s flying event. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Thunderbirds traditional air show over the academy’s graduates had been cancelled.
The Air Force Academy‘s class of 2020 graduation has been noted as being historic. The cadets are the first class to graduate in April, and the first class to commission officers into the new United States Space Force.
“The Thunderbirds are thrilled to continue on a tradition of culminating the Air Force Academy graduation and welcoming our newest second lieutenants into our Air Force,” said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbirds commander and leader. “We are proud to provide this one defining moment for these young American’s lives as they become officers in the world’s greatest Air Force.”
The extended flyover began at 1:29 p.m. MDT, over the north Colorado town of Greeley. The squadron performed westward to Windsor and Fort Collins. The formation then began a southward flight along Interstate 25 to Loveland, Longmont, Boulder, Denver, and Buckley Air Force Base.
Lead solo pilot Maj. Michelle Curran said, “(I’m) looking forward to seeing all the mountains and snow in beautiful Colorado while supporting all the frontline workers against COVID-19.”
The Thunderbirds needed to aerial refuel a few times during the afternoon. They later traveled across Fort Carson and Pueblo prior to returning home to Nellis AFB near Las Vegas.
“Our team is honored to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the countless Coloradans working every day to support their communities during this difficult time in our nation,” Caldwell added prior to the flight. “We want Coloradans to look up from their homes and enjoy the display of American resolve and pride while keeping frontline responders in their hearts.”
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)