Health-care workers in and around Philadelphia will receive a loud thank-you Tuesday as the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds will fly over the city in a display of military solidarity to honor those on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus.
Beginning around 2 p.m., 12 fighter jets in a joint formation will fly over Philadelphia for about 20 minutes. According to the Pentagon, residents along the flight path can expect a few seconds of jet noise as the aircraft pass overhead, flying in close formation.
“We are truly excited to take to the skies with our Navy counterparts for a nationwide tribute to the men and women keeping our communities safe.” Air Force Lt. Col. John Caldwell, the Thunderbirds’ flight leader and the mission commander for the flyover, said in a statement.
Officials urge residents along the flight path to watch the flyover from home and refrain from traveling to landmarks and hospitals or gathering in large groups.The walkway along the Benjamin Franklin Bridge will close Tuesday from noon until 3 p.m. to prevent onlookers.
Here’s everything you need to know to watch the joint flyover.
At what time does the Blue Angels, Thurnderbirds flyover start?
The joint mission begins at noon in New York City, with a flyover of the George Washington Bridge. The planes will maneuver over all five boroughs, the New York City suburbs, and Newark, N.J., for roughly 40 minutes before landing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
The planes will take off about an hour later and fly over Trenton and Levittown about 1:45 p.m. before turning south. The Philadelphia portion of the flyover will begin at roughly 2 p.m. and last about 20 minutes, maneuvering over the city and some suburban areas before heading south over Gloucester and Salem Counties and across the Delaware River over Wilmington about 2:15 p.m.
What’s the flight path of the flyover?
How many jets will take part in the flyover?
The formation will consist of 12 fighter jets — six of the Blue Angels’ F-18C/D Hornets and six of the Thunderbirds’ F-16C/D Fighting Falcons.
According to the Washington Post, flying the squadrons cost at least $60,000 per hour. In a statement, the Air Force said taxpayers will incur “no additional cost” due to the flyover, which fulfills training requirements for both teams to maintain proficiency.
What’s the weather expected to be like?
After days of dreary weather, the sun will be out in the Philadelphia area.
According to the National Weather Service, it will be about 62 degrees under mostly cloudy sunny skies in Philadelphia area at between 1:45 p.m. and 2:15 p.m., the timing of the flyover that will begin over the Trenton area.
Officials however say that the good weather — the best day we’ll have until the weekend — does not mean you should view the aerial salute from anywhere but your home and stress everyone should maintain safe social distance.
Impact to Philadelphia International Airport will be ‘minimal’
Thanks to the low volume of air traffic, the flyover’s impact to travelers in and out of Philadelphia International Airport will be “minimal,” according to Keith Burne, the airport’s chief operating officer.
“Landing aircraft typically line up east to west over New Jersey during their approach to the airport, and the demonstration path will pass north to south," said Brune. "There may be a one to two minute transition when the flight path changes from Center City to Wilmington, but that should not create delays for landing air traffic.”
Where else will the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds perform?
Following Tuesday’s flyovers, both the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels will perform over other cities, but neither flight team has released a full schedule. The Pentagon said several flyovers are planned “over the coming weeks,” with new demonstrations occurring every one to two days until mid-May.
Citing an internal memo, the Post reported the two teams will fly jointly over Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Austin, Texas, but also split up for separate flyovers throughout the country.
“In order to reach the maximum number of Americans, some portions of America Strong will feature only the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds, while others will include both teams flying in their signature Delta formations simultaneously,” the Air Force said in a statement.
The Blue Angels are based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., while the Thunderbirds are based at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.