The Pentagon is indeed planning to have the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flyover a number of American cities to highlight “national unity” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The War Zone was among the first to report earlier this week that the U.S. military’s two premier aerial demonstration teams had flown a rare cooperative training event at the Blue Angels’ home base at NAS Pensacola in Florida and that there were other signs of secretive preparations for some form of nation-wide morale-boosting event.
The Washington Post‘s Dan Lamothe got the scoop on the plan, dubbed Operation America Strong, which is still wending its way through various formal approval processes, on Apr. 22, 2020. The idea “was conceived by senior military officers in the Pentagon and is meant to be a nonpartisan show of resolve,” a senior U.S. military official told The Post.
“This is just a sincere thank-you,” that same individual said. “It’s one way to acknowledge those who are pitching in.”
The Thunderbirds are still at NAS Pensacola and continue to train. Airshowstuff.com also spotted a pair of the Air Force demonstration team’s F-16s deploying all-new red and blue smoke. A patriotic red, white, and blue smoke trail from the jets would be a very appropriate accompaniment to the Operation America Strong flyovers.
The exact schedule for Operation America Strong is unknown at this time, but the proposed plan involves the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels conducting flyovers over multiple cities both together and separately. Other aircraft, including bombers, may also be involved in flights close to their home stations. The Thunderbirds already flew over Las Vegas, Nevada and various locations in Colorado to salute those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this month.
None of the flyovers will involve acrobatic routines and the exact flight plans are reportedly intended to avoid crossing over areas where groups could congregate to discourage large gatherings and continue to promote social distancing.