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May 5th, 2020

By early-April, the pilots of the air show community were growing restless and looking for ways to help.

The GEICO SkyTypers were among the first to put the power and allure of aviation back to work. On April 9, AOPA's website reported on the messages of encouragement that the SkyTypers were writing in the skies above hospitals all over the country. A few days later, the Nellis AFB-based USAF Thunderbirds did a fly over in Las Vegas to honor healthcare workers and first responders. The Thunderbirds fly over, in turn, prompted the AeroShell Aerobatic Team to organize a fly over in Monroe, a small city in north central Louisiana that had recently been hit by both the Coronavirus and several tornadoes.

Since then, the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels have teamed up to plan and conduct the "America Strong" series of flyovers in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta and Washington, DC. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds announced and began its Operation Inspiration tour, a cross-Canada tour to, “…salute Canadians doing their part to fight the spread of COVID-19.” Late last month, Hill AFB launched a flight of four F-35s to recognize and thank healthcare workers in Utah. Not to be outdone, our overachieving friends at Luke AFB put up 15 different airframes in Arizona, including a KC-135, seven F-35s, and seven F-16s. Under the auspices of California Aeronautical University, ICAS member Vicky Benzing participated in a fly over in Bakersfield, California to, “…give thanks to everybody who is helping to make our community safe.” And, just today, the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, New York announced that it has scheduled “Operation Thanks from Above,” a series of flyovers on the weekend of May 16 to honor first responders, healthcare and essential workers over Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and other towns and cities in western New York.

“We’d all prefer that all of these assets were being used to entertain and inspire air show fans this spring,” says Adam Glowaski, ICAS Director of Marketing and Communications. “But, while we wait for the restart later this year, these flyovers are reminding our fans and prospective fans just how exciting airplanes and aviation can be.”