Air Force Thunderbirds Ends America Strong Flyovers

Air Force Thunderbirds Ends America Strong Flyovers
The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds” perform at the Thunder of Niagara Air Show near Niagara Falls, N.Y., June 10, 2018. (U.S. Air Force Photo/SrA Cory W. Bush)

Following their recent flight over Southern California, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, posted a message on social media saying that flight would be the last of their “America Strong” tour.

The team was originally slated to make appearances over the Pacific Northwest, and potentially other western locales, as part of the campaign that aimed to support those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is clearly no longer be the case.

America Strong – San Diego & Los Angeles

Friday’s flyover of San Diego and Los Angeles was dedicated to the healthcare workers, first responders, military and essential employees battling COVID-19 in California. It also served as our final mission for #AmericaStrong. It was an honor to partner with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels to salute frontline responders across the U.S. during this difficult time in our nation. Stay healthy and stay tuned for team updates!

Posted by Air Force Thunderbirds on Sunday, May 17, 2020

We don’t know what changed, it’s possible that feedback the team was getting, potentially from future locales, resulted in the decision to not proceed with the additional flyovers, or that there was some other reason led to the decision.

The flyovers were somewhat controversial from there start. The perception that the government was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for each military flyover sortie while first responders struggled to obtain personal protection equipment, laid-off Americans flocked to food banks for sustenance, and small businesses struggled to obtain government loads was hard to overcome in some cases.

Videos of harsh criticism of the flights have gone viral, most notably one by a doctor who lambasted the aerial displays:

At the same time, many hospital workers seemed to really appreciate the show of support and the brief break from the situation they were facing inside the hospital’s walls:

These flyovers were even formally announced, the teams are already budgeted to fly. With the air show season pretty much canceled for the foreseeable future, the flyovers at least gave the team a way to reach Americans with the airtime they were already budgeted

Still, this is a hard concept to grasp for some who have no knowledge of how military aviation works.

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