Update: Here’s video of the flyovers from a local TV station:
Original Post: Healthcare workers around the world are receiving praise and tributes as they work to fight off the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, and the US Air Force Thunderbirds have planned a special tribute of their own. The team will perform flyovers of 16 major hospitals near their hometown of Las Vegas starting at 2:30pm on Saturday, April 11th. The jets will be carrying 16 American flags; one for each hospital.
The flyovers are perhaps inspired by a video that went viral in the early days of the crisis. It purports to show the Frecce Tricolori, Italy’s version of the Thunderbirds, performing an airshow over a locked-down Italian city with a formation of jets painting the Italian flag over a lone jet representing the virus. As with most viral social media posts, this one is not true; the maneuver has been flown by the team for years and the video clip itself dates back to a much earlier summer airshow.
Regardless of the inspiration, the Thunderbird flyovers will hopefully bring a bit of a boost to everyone who is struggling with the situation. The team will have to continue with a creative approach to outreach since nearly every airshow through the end of June has been canceled. Further cancellations are expected as the situation continues to unfold. Remember to check our airshow calendar and our forums for an up to date list of airshows.