Vintage aircraft flyover to honor health care workers, first responders

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 — A local tribute honoring health care workers and first responders on front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic will take flight across Sussex County Saturday, May 23.

Coined Sussex County Air Force Salute, the locally produced flyover that will take place over Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Bayhealth Hospital Sussex Campus in Milford and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford as well as other points across the county.

Vintage aircraft from the Delaware Aviation Museum, including the popular B-25 Mitchell bomber Panchi-to, along with Ezra Rickards’ famous P-51 Mustang named Rosalie are among the aircraft slated to take part in the flyover, which will encompass points up and down the Del. 1, US 113 and US 13 corridors.

“Everybody that is associated with this is really excited about being able to bring this,” said Linda Price, Community Relations Director for the Delaware Aviation Museum based at the Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown.

Rosalie, a P-51 Mustang owned and piloted by Ezra Rickards, is scheduled to take part in a Sussex County flyover May 23 honoring healthcare workers and first responders. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

The flyover will begin at 11 a.m. A more detailed map is forthcoming once final routes have been established, but it will cover all of Sussex County, Ms. Price said.

The Sussex County flyover stems off the “America Strong” flyover across America, featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

“Because they didn’t fly anywhere near Sussex County, this was a way for us to be able to give back with some really cool aircraft. Of course, Panchito will lead the formation,” said Ms. Price.

In addition to Panchito, piloted by aviation historian Larry Kelley, and Rosalie, the flyover is expected to include Birddog (a de Havilland Canada Chipmunk plane) and Spot (a Tiger Moth), both of which are also housed at the Delaware Aviation Museum. Several other aircraft, possibly another P-51 Mustang, may be added to the formation.

Tax-deductible donations are being accepted to help offset fuel cost for the flyover. Any monetary donations above the fuel cost “will be turned into gift cards for healthcare workers and first responders,” Ms. Price said.

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

In addition, a GoFundMe page set up earlier this week has a target goal of $10,000. It can be accessed by googling GoFundMe Sussex County Air Force, or at the following website address:

“There is no disguising when Panchito flies over, or the P-51,” said Ms. Price. “When Panchito is up in the air, you know Panchito is up in the air. And they are going to fly low enough so people can see them. So, we’re encouraging people to come out and see some of these really cool vintage aircraft that a lot of people don’t even know are right here in Georgetown. This is a way for the museum and Ezra to honor those individuals that are working so hard for us.”

Inclement weather

In the event of inclement weather, organizers will make the morning call and notification will be issued.

“We’ll do something similar to what we do with Wings & Wheels. They’ll make the call first thing in the morning whether or not it is going to take place. If it is not going to take place, we’ll get out the infor-mation in all avenues that we can get it out,” said Ms. Price.

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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