The US Air Force Thunderbirds will not perform their first airshow of the year as originally planned after a member of the team tested positive for COVID-19.
The famous red, white, and blue F-16s were set to soar over F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming next Wednesday, July 22nd. Now, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle is reporting that the team has backed out of the Wings Over Warren appearance as a precaution following the news that one of the team’s maintenance crew has contracted the disease.
The airshow remains a go despite the setback. In consideration of social distancing, the event has shifted to a drive-in format where everyone must stay with their car. Both the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II demonstration teams are still scheduled to perform, in addition to B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bomber flyovers; an impressive display of military air power in itself.
With almost all normal airshows canceled so far this year, the Thunderbirds have spent their year practicing and participating in flyovers around the country – first as part of Operation American Strong and then more recently in celebration of Independence Day, when they staged out of Langley AFB in Virginia.
Given the timing of this news, it seems likely that the exposure occurred after the team returned to their home base of Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. The team’s top priority now must be limiting any spread to other members and other military personnel on base. Their next planned appearance is in Ocean City, Maryland on August 15th and 16th, but we will have to see if the virus is under control in time for them to make that trip.
In the mean time, we wish everyone impacted a full recovery!
UPDATE: The Wings Over Warren airshow has added the A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team and a KC-46 Pegasus flyover to fill some of the gap left by the Thunderbirds’ cancellation. This means that it will host three of the four USAF single-ship demonstration teams! Head over to our forums for a more detailed schedule.