LAS VEGAS, NV — The Air Force’s Air Demonstration Squadron took the skies above their home town to perform a flyover on Saturday to honor the COVID-19 health care workers across America.
The Thunderbirds five-plane delta formation of F-16 Fighting Falcons flew smoke-on across the Las Vegas community. The military jets salute across the valley began at 2:31 p.m. PDT, beginning a 25-minute extended flyover.
The Thunderbirds’ flight path began at Nellis Air Force Base and took them through Centennial Hills, the Summerlin area, and over to Spring Valley. The squadron then flew along the Las Vegas Strip, and down to Henderson prior to their return to Nellis.
Las Vegas station KTNV provided live coverage of the event.
“It is an honor to fly for the Americans at the forefront of our nation’s fight against the coronavirus,” Thunderbirds leader Lt. Col. John Caldwell said on Friday. “They are true heroes and we look forward to demonstrating the support of the 685,000 total force Airmen of the U.S. Air Force for healthcare workers, first responders, and COVID-19 essential personnel in Las Vegas and across the nation.”
During the flyover, a sixth Thunderbird and a grey F-16 flew as chase aircraft to record the event. The local Air Force community has adopted the phrase “Vegas Goes Blue” in honor of the medial teams.
The squadron also flew 16 American flags during the flyover. Each will be given to the 16 local hospitals and health care facilities around Las Vegas.
“(We) want to give a big shout out to the healthcare workers and first responders across this country, especially the ER staff and ICU staff,” Thunderbirds Flight Surgeon Lt. Col. (Dr.) Noel Colls said prior to the flyover. “Y’all are on the front lines of keeping us safe from the Covid-19 outbreak.”
The Thunderbirds will next perform a flyover of the Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony on Saturday, April 18. Their next public air show performance is the weekend of June 13-14, over the beaches and boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland.
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)