Speculation is growing that the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels may be planning a nation-wide set of flyovers to salute healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers who are helping to battle the coronavirus across America.
With air show dates canceled for months to come, the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and United Stated Air Force’s Thunderbirds flight demonstration teams have continued training, and in the case of the latter, they have used some of their flight time to thank their hometown healthcare workers and other essential personnel, as well as those in Colorado, in a way that only they can.
According to Airshowstuff.com:
On Sunday, an extensive list of cities across the country was posted to social media with claims that it was a schedule for a number of flyovers to be conducted between April 23rd and May 2nd. The supposed plan would see the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels join forces for a mass flyover of East Coast cities like New York City and Washington, DC before splitting up to cover different sections of the country. The Thunderbirds would take the Western US while the Blue Angels cover the Midwest. They would again meet in Texas for a day of joint flyovers to close the program.
This all seemed pretty far-fetched. A nation-wide campaign like this would take immense planning and resources, and would certainly require some travel in a time when travel is to be minimized.
However, the evidence is growing that the list of flyovers may in fact be a real plan. On Monday afternoon aviation spotters heard Thunderbird 1 check-in with the air traffic control tower at NAS Pensacola with 8 other aircraft in his formation. Other spotters posted videos of the jets landing at the base. A local photographer, Laura Bogan, snapped pictures of all 9 jets flying over the area before landing.
U.S. Navy denied Speculation. No, the Navy’s flight demonstration team will not be doing a flyover in the Philadelphia region this week.
Such an event was never planned for Wednesday or Thursday, despite “internet rumors that got out of control,” said Chief Petty Officer Chad Pritt, public affairs chief for the Blue Angels, which has showcased naval aviation with flyovers and community outreach since 1946.
However, The 57th Wing Commander, who oversees the Thunderbirds, posted the following on his Instagram account. Here is the original draft to ATC about the flyover. Apparently, it has been pushed back a week:
For now, the teams are not confirming anything publicly and have made no comments on why the Thunderbirds have dropped in to Pensacola.
It is likely that they are remaining quiet while final details are worked out, and it is also possible that they will keep plans under wraps until the last minute to discourage any long-distance travel.