HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Tens of thousands of Utahns will be looking to the skies Thursday afternoon to catch a glimpse of the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team and 388th Fighter Wing squads as the F-35 jets perform a flyover across most of Utah.
While the planes will be impressive, the Utah Strong Flyover isn’t for the average citizen. It’s the Air Force’s way to thank healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s really nice for us to just be able to do something to show our appreciation. We’re doing our best to try and keep our mission going so you guys can too,” said Air Force Captain Kippun Sumner.
The planes will take off from Hill Air Force Base around 1:00 p.m. on Thursday. They will fly over hospitals in the Salt Lake City area before heading to St. George. After flying over hospitals there, the jets will make their way back up to Park City, before flying over medical centers in Logan and Ogden then back to Hill Air Force Base.
It will be our honor to fly over #Utah in a small show of our appreciation and solidarity.
We HIGHLY encourage that everyone observe the flyover from the safety of your homes and refrain from traveling to see it. Social Distancing should be practiced at all times.
— F-35A Demonstration Team (@F35demoteam) April 29, 2020
While Sumner said the original intent was to honor healthcare workers, after talking with Air Force brass they decided to fly over veterans’ homes as well to thank those who have served.
“We [thought we’d] love to do something to give a small salute to our healthcare workers and, kinda from there, it blossomed into this statewide flyover,” Sumner said.
The flyover will be led by Captain Kristin “BEO” Wolfe. Wolfe is the first female commander of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter demonstration team.
While the flight is meant to honor healthcare workers and veterans, it will also be useful for the pilots.
“Our demonstration pilot, who is going to be leading the formation, she has to practice weekly in order to maintain her currency for the demonstration routine. She’ll be escorted by three combat-ready pilots from the fighter wing. This flight counts as readiness training for the pilots,” Sumner said.
People who want to see the F-35 flyover across Utah are encouraged to practice good social distancing and watch from the front lawns of their houses.
F-35 Utah flyover map
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