(WWJ) Military flyovers in the skies above Michigan are scheduled for this week — in a show of support for health care heroes fighting the battle against COVID-19.
The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels demonstration team is planning a flyover of Detroit just before nooon on Tuesday (check out the route below), and some fighter pilots from Selfridge Air National Guard Base will be conducting a training exercise while also honoring first responders, and other essential personnel amid the pandemic.
"Three airplanes will be taking off out of here at Selfridge and flying over about six to eight cities, refueling with the KC-135 while we're here," said Major David Dennis, who flies A-10 fighter jets out of the Harrison Township base. "And the purpose is basically to show support for the hometown heroes here in Michigan, and let everyone know that we're all in this together, and basically we're all fighting to fight together."
A KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft will fly over Marquette, Lansing and Flint and A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, aka "Warthog," will fly over Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Battle Creek on Tuesday. Both aircraft will fly over Detroit and Novi on Wednesday, according to the 127th Wing at SANG.
The flyovers are also intended to lift morale due to the severe health and economic impacts resulting from COVID-19.
The Blue Angels event is part of a program called "America Strong." flying over areas of the country hardest hit by COVID-19, as both joint and individual team flights, every one-to-two days.
“We’re excited to fly over cities across America as our way of saying thanks to the healthcare workers, first responders, and all the people who selflessly run into the breach working to keep America strong,” said Gen. Dave Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and Adm. Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “This is also our way of showing that we are all in this together and that America’s spirit will prevail.”
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.
"America Strong" also fulfills critical training requirements, officials say, as all pilots must execute a minimum number of flight hours to maintain proficiency. These flyovers will incur no additional cost to taxpayers, according to the Navy.
Residents will be able to see these flyovers from the safety of their homes, officials say, and are asked to maintain social-distancing guidelines. Residents are being told not to gather at landmarks, hospitals or elsewhere in groups to view the flyovers.