Dept. of Defense plans ‘America Strong’ flyovers to honor health care workers

The demonstration is a salute to health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a show of solidarity, the Navy Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds will conduct a series of multi-city flyovers over the next two weeks, including in Jacksonville.

The U.S. Department of Defense is calling the demonstration, America Strong.

America Strong is a collaborative salute from the Navy and Air Force to recognize health care workers, first responders, and essential personnel while standing in solidarity with all Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release.

“This is also our way of showing that we are all in this together and that America’s spirit will prevail,” Adm. Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations said.

The two demonstration teams will fly over areas of the country hardest hit by COVID-19, starting next week as both joint and individual team flights occurring every one to two days until mid-May.

While America Strong will showcase Department of Defense support to health care workers, first responders, military, essential employees, and aims to unite all Americans in the fight against COVID-19, it also fulfills critical training requirements for both teams. Pilots must execute a minimum number of flight hours to maintain proficiency.

In order to reach the maximum number of Americans, some portions of America Strong will feature only the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds, while others will include both teams flying in their signature Delta formations simultaneously. This will be the first time the teams have joined forces since 2017.

The Defense Department hasn’t released a final schedule, but the Washington Post reports the Blue Angels will fly over Jacksonville.

The flight demonstration in Jacksonville is planned for May 2 but an exact time will be announced on social media.

For the latest on the schedule of demonstrations, follow the teams on social media @blueangels and @AFThunderbirds.

The flyovers incur no additional cost to taxpayers.

The Blue Angels, based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, and Thunderbirds, based at Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, typically fly at more than 30 air shows each year to demonstrate American military aviation.

This year, both teams have been forced to cancel many performances in response to Department of Defense direction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.

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