US Air Force Thunderbirds perform ‘aerial salute’ to honor healthcare workers, first responders and other essential staff in Las Vegas Valley hospitals
- The US Air Force Thunderbirds flew a special, 25-minute flyover on Saturday
- The aerial performance was designed to honor and thank all essential workers
- The entire squadron participated in the flyover, which was a rarity for the team
- Viewers were encouraged to watch the show, safely, from home quarantine
- Many people traveled to get a better view but maintained social distancing
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
The US Air Force’s Thunderbirds put on a special show above every hospital in the Las Vegas Valley as a way of thanking first responders, health care professionals and other essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The elite demonstration squadron, which is based out of Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base, began their 25-minute aerial honor at 2.30pm Saturday.
The eight F-16 Fighting Falcons’s flight path took them over Nevada’s Centennial Hills, Summerlin and Spring Valley areas, along the Las Vegas Strip and to Henderson.
The US Air Force’s Thunderbirds put on a special flyover, across the Las Vegas Valley, Saturday to honor essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic
Eight F-16 fighter jets participated in the flyover. The demonstration team’s commander said it was rare for the entire squadron to perform together
Thunderbirds commander and leader Lt. Col. John Caldwell has said Friday that six of the fighter jets would be performing maneuvers as close to three feet apart, while traveling up to 450mph, at altitudes of between 500 to 1,000 feet.
He also noted that it was rare for the entire squadron to participate in the flyover, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
‘We’ve been amazed at just the tenacity, the dedication, the professionalism of some of our medical professionals,’ Lt. Col. Caldwell said.
‘What better way to show a supportive solidarity of our thank you, of our gratitude than dedicating these flyovers to our medical community?’
Lt. Col. Caldwell also said the flyover was meant to represent the support of the Air Force’s 685,000 members for essential personnel in Las Vegas and around the US.
The fighter jets took off from their home base at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada
The Thunderbirds flew over all the hospitals in the Las Vegas Valley during the special flyover
The jets flew as close to three feet away from each other at speeds of up to 450mph
The Thunderbirds said that the flight was meant to show the entire Air Force’s support for essential workers and said that they were ‘true heroes’ during the fight against the virus
‘It is an honor to fly for the Americans at the forefront of our nation’s fight against the coronavirus,’ Lt. Col. Caldwell said in a press release, calling them ‘true heroes.’
Residents of the Las Vegas Valley were encouraged to watch the flyover from the safety of home-quarantine and were reminded to follow social distancing guidelines during the performance.
‘We want Las Vegas residents to look up from their homes and enjoy the display of American resolve and pride while keeping front line coronavirus responders in their hearts during this unprecedented time in our nation,’ Lt. Col. Caldwell said.
Despite the Thunderbirds telling people not to travel to watch the flyover or gather to see it, Las Vegas Valley residents did so anyway.
Las Vegas’ Town Square and Las Vegas Golf Center parking lots were reported to be nearly full before the jets left the Air Force base.
One man, Marine Corps veteran Chris Slajar, 47, had parked his truck horizontally across multiple parking lot spots outside the golf center as a method of enforcing social distancing.
He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he and his wife, Veronica, 49, were ‘getting very stir crazy; this lets us out to see eight super-cool fighter jets.’
Other viewers sat on their cars on the Las Vegas Strip.
Nevada has had more than 2,700 coronavirus cases so far, with 107 deaths.