Thunderbirds, Blue Angels to fly over NYC to honor essential workers

April 27, 2020

Six F-16 Fighting Falcons flying over NYC in 2005; U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sean Mateo White on Flickr

The United States Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds will fly over parts of New York City on Tuesday to honor coronavirus essential personnel. The 40-minute joint flyover is part of the mission “Operation America Strong,” announced by President Donald Trump last week, as the Washington Post first reported. The performance will happen across parts of the city and Newark starting at noon on April 28 and then move onto Trenton and Philadelphia.

“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,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbird 1 and mission commander for the flyover, said in a press release. “We hope to give Americans a touching display of American resolve that honors those serving on the frontline of our fight with COVID-19.”

The formation will feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons and six F/A-18 Hornets. The joint flyover mission is the first of several planned for cities across the country– including Washington, Baltimore, New York, Trenton, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Austin–over the coming weeks to thank first responders and military personnel.

The Pensacola-based Blue Angles will fly separately over at least 13 cities including Miami, Tampa, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Kingsville, and Corpus Christi.

Flying the squadrons does not come cheap. According to the Washington Post, the flyover costs a minimum of about $60,000 per hour. But a senior military official told the newspaper the flights will come from money already in the Pentagon’s budget.

The Pentagon is recommending residents watch the flyover from the safety of home and avoid gathering in large groups to view the display. The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds “welcome and encourage” viewers to tag the flyover on social media with the hashtag #AmericaStrong.


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