Flyovers By Thunderbirds, Blue Angels In NYC, Newark & Philadelphia Honor Medical Workers

Tuesday, April 28th 2020, 1:17 pm
By: CBS News

The U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds and Navy's Blue Angels are conducting flyovers in New York City and other cities in the Northeast on Tuesday. The joint flyover is a salute to frontline workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic

Their flight path on Tuesday began at 12 p.m. ET over New York City, the Newark, New Jersey area, northern suburbs and parts of Long Island. 

The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels will head south over New Jersey to Trenton, where they're expected at 1:45 p.m. They finish off in Philadelphia at 2 p.m. 

Jennie Drexler, a nurse manager of critical care at Mount Sinai West in Manhattan, expressed gratitude for the flyover. 

"The Blue Angels signify such courage to the highest level," Drexler said. "To be honored by them signifies the courage we have shown. We had to step up and rise to the moment In this crisis and we pulled through. It almost signifies the courage of nursing during this virus." 

Atlanta, Houston, Austin, Dallas and Baltimore are among the dozens of cities where flyovers are expected to also happen. Residents in these areas are advised to watch the flyovers from the safety of their home-quarantine and should maintain all social distancing guidelines during the event. 

On Monday, F-16 fighter jets flew over a hospital in Aiken, South Carolina and the state's Air National Guard flew over other hospitals in the region. Pilots also put on an air show over hospitals in San Diego on Friday. 

President Trump last week announced the flyovers — called mission "Operation America Strong" — would be happening across the U.S.

"Operation America Strong was the idea of our great military men and women," Mr. Trump said Wednesday. "The Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels crews who wanted to show support to the American medical workers, who just like military members in a time of war are fiercely running forward the fight." 

Each squadron would cost at least $60,000 per hour to fly, according to the Washington Post. But the total could run higher since the Pentagon tells CBS News the cost per flying hour for an F-16 is approximately $20,000. A Department of Defense official told CBS News that there would be no additional cost to taxpayers since flyovers are already included in the teams' annual operational budgets.

Earlier in April, flyovers happened in Las Vegas and Colorado, where health care workers there appreciated the tributes.