The Hawaii Air National Guard and 15th Wing active-duty airmen from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will perform a flyover Thursday in a salute to Hawaii’s front-line workers battling COVID-19 and to those staying home to “flatten the curve” of the virus.
The flyover, the latest in a parade of air tributes for COVID-19 workers across the country, will begin on Oahu at about 11:20 a.m. with the Hickam aircraft on a course that will take them above most of Hawaii’s large hospitals and major urban areas at an altitude between 2,500 and 3,000 feet.
The event will feature Hawaii-based U.S. Air Force planes, including a C-17 Globemaster III, a KC-135 Stratotanker and a flight of F-22 Raptors, which will complete routine training sorties as they visit each island.
Officials said the aircraft were already scheduled for these training flights and that the flyover comes at no additional taxpayer expense.
“This event will recognize the hard work that everyone in Hawaii has already accomplished to keep Hawaii’s COVID cases among the lowest in the United States, while also acknowledging the need for continued vigilance, and our obligation to those in our community who require continued assistance,” Brig. Gen. Dann S. Carlson, 154th Wing Commander, said Tuesday in an announcement.
Carlson said the event is inspired by the Air Force’s Operation American Resolve Salutes campaign to pay tribute to health care professionals, front-line responders and essential personnel working to keep everyone safe during the coronavirus outbreak.
Military and general aviation flyover salutes have been held from coast to coast in recent weeks, many of them featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels or both.
Some of the flyovers have drawn huge crowds outdoors in major cities, including the Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta and New York metro areas.
Following a flyover in New York, the New York Post reported that many areas saw hundreds packed shoulder to shoulder to catch a glimpse of the famous air demonstration teams zooming overhead.
In a release from Gov. David Ige, Hawaii residents were cautioned to view the overhead spectacle from the safety of their homes while adhering to social distancing guidelines. They are also asked to refrain from traveling to see the flyover. Hospital workers are encouraged to watch but avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing.
Hawaii will see only locally based military flying machines Thursday.
The F-22s are operated by the Hawaii Air National Guard and active-duty airmen in the 199th and 19th Fighter Squadrons. The fighters feature stealth technology, radical maneuvering capabilities and the ability to fly at supersonic speed without afterburners, making them what the Air Force calls the most dominant fighter jets in the world.
The C-17 is a cargo plane operated locally by a team from the 535th and 204th Airlift Squadrons. Hickam’s C-17s have been used over the past several weeks to deliver medical supplies to and from the mainland and to transport Hawaii National Guard Joint Task Force personnel and equipment to the islands.
The KC-135 helps in the refueling of Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft while in the air and is operated by the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 203rd Air Refueling Squadron.
According to the Air Force, once the planes fly over Kahuku, the routes will spit up with a C-17 going to Kauai and a KC-135 heading east toward Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii island. The Raptors will fly to the north and continue with regularly scheduled training.
The flight path was coordinated with state officials and the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We welcome and encourage viewers to tag us on social media in photos and videos of the formation with the hashtags: #TeamHickamSalutes, #AirForceSalutesHI, #FlyoverHawaii, #InThisTogether, #respondHINGwithAloha,” Team Hickam officials said.
The times and sites for the flyovers Thursday from Hawaii-based Air Force planes:
Queen’s West 11:21 a.m.
Pali Momi 11:22 a.m.
Tripler 11:23 a.m.
Queen’s 11:24 a.m.
Kapiolani 11:24 a.m.
Castle 11:30 a.m.
Kahuku Medical 11:35 a.m.
Wilcox 11:57 a.m.
Queen’s West 11:23 a.m.
Pali Momi 11:24 a.m.
Tripler 11:25 a.m.
Queen’s 11:26 a.m.
Kapiolani 11:26 a.m.
Castle 11:32 a.m.
Kahuku Medical 11:37 a.m.
Molokai General 11:53 a.m.
N. Hawaii Hosp. 12:20 p.m.
Hilo Medical 12:31 p.m.
Kona Medical 1:20 p.m.
Maui Memorial 1:24 p.m.
Queen’s West 11:24 a.m.
Pali Momi 11:26 a.m.
Tripler 11:27 a.m.
Queen’s 11:28 a.m.
Kapiolani 11:28 a.m.
Castle 11:34 a.m.
Kahuku Medical 11:39 a.m.