Sussex County Council lends support to flyover event

Colored lights reflect off Panchito – a B-25 Mitchell Bomber at a past Wings & Wheels dinner show. The popular aircraft will lead a May 23 flyover over hospitals and other points n Sussex County to honor healthcare workers and first responders. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN – Sussex County government has pumped substantial supplemental support for Saturday’s Sussex County Air Force Flyover – a localized salute honoring front-line health care workers and first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Council Tuesday agreed to ante up upward of $5,000 – one grand from each of the five councilman’s accounts – to cover fuel costs for the event that will feature assorted vintage aircraft.

Among the planes participating in the multi-sortie flyover are: Panchito, the B-25 Mitchell bomber; Rosalie, a P-51 Mustang owned by Ezra Rickards; and a C-45.

“The idea behind this is to replicate the flyovers that have been occurring by the Blue Angels over some of the major cities to recognize first responders,” Sussex County Councilman John Rieley said during the May 19 teleconference session. “So, the idea was to put forward to utilize our Sussex County Air Force, which is comprised of vintage airplanes.”

The flyover is being presented by the Delaware Aviation Museum in partnership with Rickards Auto Body & Restoration and Chorman’s Aerial Spraying. It is sponsored in part by donations and WGMD, 92.7, which will provide destination updates during the flyover.

“The guys at the museum are really excited about being able to give back in their own way and for this community to be able to see some of these beautiful aircraft,” said Linda Price, community relations director for the Delaware Aviation Museum, based at the Delaware Coastal Airport.

The flyover will encompass three medical major medical centers — Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Bayhealth Hospital Sussex Campus in Milford and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford — as well as numerous points across the county.

The entire flyover list includes: Greenwood Volunteer Fire Company; Woodbridge High School; Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company; Seaford High School; Nanticoke Memorial Hospital; Laurel High School; Delmar High School; Beebe Medical Center in Millville; Indian River High School; Selbyville Fire Company; Fenwick Lighthouse; Beebe Medical Center, Millville; Dewey Beach; Beebe’s John J Williams Highway campus; Cape Henlopen High School; Beebe Hospital in Lewes; Fort Miles at Cape Henlopen State Park; Beebe Clinic in Milton; Milton Fire Department; a nursing home; Bayhealth Hospital Center; Milford High School; Milford Memorial Hospital; Ellendale Fire Department; Beebe Clinic in Georgetown; Sussex Tech High School and Sussex Central High School.

The first sortie at 11 a.m. sharp will showcase the B-25, P-51 and C-45 covering the entire route in one flight, according to Ms. Price.

The second sortie will be two flights of two L-Birds. The first flight will be the L-19 and Tiger Moth doing the east route and the L-16 and Chipmunk will do the west route. Those departures will be from 11:05 to 11:10 a.m.

After the first L-birds sortie is complete, they will return to Delaware Coastal Airport, refuel as necessary, change out passengers, takeoff and do the opposite route. The third sortie will begin at 1 p.m., with the L-16 and Chipmunk covering the east route and the L-19 and Tiger Moth the west route.

“Panchito, Rosalie and the C-45 can cover the whole course in less time than the smaller craft can, and without having to refuel,” said Ms. Price. “There are not many people around us that have privilege of seeing these beautiful aircraft. They certainly will know when Panchito, Rosalie and the C-45 come over us.”

Tax-deductible donations are being accepted. Any monetary donations above the fuel cost will be used to purchase gift cards for healthcare workers and first responders, Ms. Price said.

Donations as of Monday night totaled $4,715, not counting county council’s $5,000 donation approved Tuesday.

“We’ve had some feedback that there has been an abundance of purchases of gift certificates for first responders,” Mr. Rieley said. “We would like to direct our funds toward fuel only.”

Donations can be made by mailing a check to: Delaware Aviation Museum, 21781 Aviation Ave., Georgetown, DE 19947, or by calling Ms. Price at 302-562-8201.

In addition, there is a GoFundMe page that can be accessed by googling GoFundMe Sussex County Air Force, or at the following website address:

“There is just so much excitement about this because it is so locally owned and produced,” said Ms. Price. “It is something that we can call our own.”

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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