The Air Force’s Thunderbirds will again salute medical professionals battling the new coronavirus on Saturday — this time in Colorado.
Following the 10:30 a.m. virtual graduation at the Air Force Academy, which is closed to the public and will be streamed live on Facebook, the Thunderbirds will recognize the Class of 2020 in Colorado Springs with a graduation flyover, the squadron said in a news release.
“While the coronavirus pandemic has curtailed many of the celebrations that graduating cadets usually enjoy, we are proud to provide this one defining moment for these young Americans’ lives as they become officers in the world’s greatest Air Force,” Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbirds commander and leader, said in a statement.
Afterward, around 12:50 p.m., the Thunderbirds will conduct a series of flyovers across Colorado communities to honor health care workers, first responders, military members and other essential personnel working on the front lines of the pandemic.
“Our team is honored to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the countless Coloradans working every day to support their communities during this difficult time in our nation,” Caldwell said.
“We want Coloradans to look up from their homes and enjoy the display of American resolve and pride while keeping frontline responders in their hearts.”
The team, featuring eight F-16 Flying Falcons, will fly for 60 minutes over the communities of Boulder, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Carson, Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont, Loveland, Pueblo and Windsor.
To complete this unique series of flyovers, the Thunderbirds will rely on aerial refueling support from a KC-135 tanker aircraft from McConnell Air Force Base and March Air Reserve Base extending their range for the duration of the mission.
Last weekend, the Thunderbirds performed a similar series of formations, starting at Nellis Air Force Base and soaring over 18 hospitals and medical facilities in Southern Nevada for about 25 minutes.
They first went above Centennial Hills, Summerlin and Spring Valley areas before passing the Strip toward Henderson.
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