C-17 flyover to show support for those fighting COVID-19

DOVER — Col. Matthew Jones, commander of Dover Air Force Base’s 436th Airlift Wing, is taking a page out of the recent high-profile multi-city flyovers by the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy’s Blue Angels demonstration squadrons in recognizing health care workers, first responders and other essential personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it obviously won’t quite reach the visual impact of the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels flying a combined 12 fighter jets over major cities, the sentiment will be the same, as a single C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft will fly low and slow over health care facilities in five cities in Delaware Wednesday afternoon

“Defending the homeland has taken a new shape, and Team Dover is proud to serve alongside the first responders, medical professionals and all other frontline personnel during COVID-19 response efforts,” said Col. Jones in a statement. “We hope these flybys inspire our local communities to remain resilient during these trying times and reassure them that Dover AFB continues its unwavering support.”

The C-17 will pass over Christiana Hospital at 3:15 p.m., followed by Bayhealth’s Kent Campus (3:30 p.m.), Bayhealth’s Sussex Campus (3:40 p.m.), Beebe Healthcare in Lewes (3:45 p.m.) and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford (3:50 p.m.) before returning to Dover AFB.

The flyby is designed not only to honor first responders and medical professionals who have been putting their lives on the line to keep communities safe, but will serve as a demonstration of the Air Force’s continued readiness during the national COVID-19 response.

Pilots for the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels said they were honored to participate in such events, as they flew over health care facilities in Baltimore and Washington Saturday.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbird commander and lead pilot, said, “These flyovers are a gesture of goodwill on behalf of the entire Department of Defense to the heroes of the COIVD-19 pandemic.”

The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels aerial acrobatic teams flew over New York, Newark (N.J.), Trenton and Philadelphia on April 28, but were only in Delaware for a brief amount of time as they skirted over the First State from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to Newark.

The pilot and crew of the C-17 from Dover who are participating in Wednesday’s flyover will undoubtedly feel that same level of honor as they cruise over five different health care facilities.

Dover Air Force Base’s public affairs team, on its Facebook page, noted, “We definitely want to encourage everyone to observe from their respective homes or place of business if they’re still working. Social distancing, wear of masks and staying home all still apply. As much fun as it is to watch airplanes, it’s more important to practice health safety.”

One person commented, “So you’re just flying daily locals, like every other day?” to which the base’s Facebook page responded, “kind of, but lower and with more appreciation.”

Pamela J. Marecki, assistant vice president for Bayhealth Marketing Communications, said when she informed staff at its hospitals in Milford and Dover that they would be honored from a flyover from a Dover AFB C-17 today, some of the reactions she got were “Honored,” “Appreciated,” “Valued,” “Humbled,” “Cared about,” “Loved,” “Supported,” “Sense of Community,” “It will energize and honor the entire staff,” “An amazing idea,” “Feeling appreciated knowing we have the support of DAFB,” and “Grateful for the recognition and support from the Dover Air Force Base. It’s a reminder that we’re all in this together.”

The Air Force is conducting flybys as part of a nationwide salute to all workers and communities during COVID-19. Community members taking photographs of the Dover AFB flyovers are encouraged to post imagery to social media and tag the photos with #doverafbsalutes.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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