NEWARK, NJ – In a salute to frontline COVID-19 responders, the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds, the U.S. Navy and Air Force trick fighter jet squadrons, will be making a joint flyover near the George Washington Bridge on Tuesday, April 28, the squads announced on Twitter Monday.

A formation of six F-16C/D Fighting Falcon and six F/A-18C/D Hornet aircraft will conduct these flyovers “as a collaborative salute to healthcare workers, first responders, military, and other essential personnel while standing in solidarity with all Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic,” a release stated.

The 40 minute flight, beginning around noon, will begin just north of the Bronx, cross over the Hudson River into New Jersey, fly over Newark into Brooklyn, on into Staten Island and Long Island, then fly over White Plains before leaving the area. Just before 2 p.m., the two squads will fly over the southern NJ and Philadelphia area.

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The joint effort is very unusual since the Department of Defense considers the teams to be recruiting tools for the two branches of the military, and they don’t usually fly within 150 miles of each other.

“We are truly excited to take to the skies with our Navy counterparts for a nation-wide tribute to the men and women keeping our communities safe," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbird 1 and mission commander for the flyover. “We hope to give Americans a touching display of American resolve that honors those serving on the frontline of our fight with COVID-19.”

“We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to salute those working on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, we are in awe of your strength and resilience,” said Cmdr. Brian Kesselring, U.S. Navy Blue Angels commanding officer and flight leader. “Thank you to all of those in essential industries keeping our nation moving forward. We will get through this. We are all in this together.”

This mission, the first of several planned over the coming weeks, is the culmination of more than a month of planning and coordination between the two teams and numerous city and government offices.

Residents along the flight path can expect a few seconds of jet noise as the aircraft pass overhead, along with the sight of 12 high-performance aircraft flying close in precise formation. Residents are encouraged by the teams to observe the flyover from the safety of their home-quarantine and refraining from traveling to see the flyover. Social distancing should be practiced at all times.

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