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NEWS | May 14, 2020

Flyby salutes Virginia healthcare, essential workers

By Senior Airman Anthony Nin Leclerec 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Air Combat Command F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team and Air Force Heritage Flight performed a formation flyover throughout the Virginia peninsula, in salute to everyone on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19, as well as those staying at home to “flatten the curve” of the virus May 12, 2020.

The formation was led by Maj. Joshua “Cabo” Gunderson, F-22 Raptor Demo Team commander, along with two World War II P-51 Mustangs piloted by Jim Beasley Jr. and Andrew McKenna from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation.

"The Heritage Flight is proud and honored to be a small part of honoring frontline workers, emergency personnel and all the families impacted by COVID,” McKenna said. “It was a true honor to participate with the F-22 Demonstration team and support the U. S. Air Force."

The aircraft took off from Langley Air Force Base and proceeded north to Richmond before returning south through Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. 

Various police departments and frontline workers safely assembled across the flight path as a symbol of gratitude.

“The flight honoring all of the frontline workers was incredibly humbling and is something I’ll look back on as a highlight of my Air Force career,” Gunderson said. “I can’t begin to express how appreciative I am for the time and effort Virginians have given to combat this pandemic.”

The community came together at different locations in support of the salute. Nurses smiled as they reported to work during this time as they walked past the thankful applause of the community.

"Thank you so much for the encouragement," said Patricia Brennan, Riverside Doctors' Hospital Williamsburg registered nurse. "It was wonderful and heartwarming."

The flyover also provided essential currencies and training to the pilots while demonstrating the readiness of the Air Force and was performed at no additional cost to the tax payer.

Making their way through the clear skies, the pilots landed the aircraft safely back at their home stations knowing that the sun had set on the day, but the fight must continue.