The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, and the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, has performed the America Strong flyover over New York City, Newark, Trenton and Philadelphia on April 28.
A formation of six Thunderbirds F-16C/D Fighting Falcon (five F-16C single-seater and one F-16D twin-seater) and six F/A-18C Hornet aircraft performed the flyover as part of America Strong; a collaborative salute from the Air Force and Navy to recognize healthcare workers, first responders, military, and other essential personnel while standing in solidarity with all Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are truly excited to take to the skies with our Navy counterparts for a nation-wide tribute to the men and women keeping our communities safe.” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbird 1 and mission commander for the flyover. “We hope to give Americans a touching display of American resolve that honors those serving on the frontline of our fight with COVID-19.”
“We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to salute those working on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, we are in awe of your strength and resilience,” said Cmdr. Brian Kesselring, U.S. Navy Blue Angels commanding officer and flight leader. “Thank you to all of those in essential industries keeping our nation moving forward. We will get through this. We are all in this together.”
This mission, the first of several planned over the coming weeks, is the culmination of more than a month of planning and coordination between the two teams and numerous city and government offices.
The Blue Angels is the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron which was initially formed in 1946, making it the second oldest formal aerobatic team (under the same name) in the world, after the French Patrouille de France formed in 1931.
The Blue Angels’ McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets (numbered 1–6) are currently flown by five Navy demonstration pilots and one Marine Corps demonstration pilot.
The USAF Air Demonstration Squadron (“Thunderbirds”) is the air demonstration squadron of the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The squadron is assigned to the 57th Wing, and are based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Created 67 years ago in 1953, the USAF Thunderbirds are the third-oldest formal flying aerobatic team (under the same name) in the world, after the French Air Force Patrouille de France formed in 1931 and the Blue Angels formed in 1946.
The Thunderbirds perform aerial demonstrations in the F-16C Fighting Falcon, and they also fly two F-16D twin-seat trainers.