No, the Navy’s flight demonstration team will not be doing a flyover in the Philadelphia region this week.
Such an event was never planned for Wednesday or Thursday, despite “internet rumors that got out of control,” said Chief Petty Officer Chad Pritt, public affairs chief for the Blue Angels, which has showcased naval aviation with flyovers and community outreach since 1946.
These rumors began to circulate on social media on Tuesday. Posts claimed the Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration squad would be involved in the flyover to show support for front-line workers and solidarity with people who have been affected by the coronavirus, as well as to promote national unity amid the pandemic.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds could fly over Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey in a “multi-city tour” sometime over the next several weeks, citing defense officials and a memo obtained by the newspaper. It was unclear whether the plans could change.
At his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday, President Donald Trump said the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels would perform air shows across the country to pay tribute to the front-line workers combating the pandemic.
“I’m excited to announce that in the coming weeks the Air Force Thunderbirds, they’re incredible, and the Navy Blue Angels, equally incredible, will be performing air shows over America’s major cities and some of the cities that aren’t major cities," he said. “They’re going to be doing a lot of work, a lot of very dangerous flying.”
Earlier in the day, Pritt had told The Inquirer “no flyovers have been authorized” in the Philadelphia area, adding “if and when they are authorized” municipalities receive at least 48 hours notice and the event is “well-advertised” by the military.
Over the past two weeks, the Thunderbirds have promoted two such events, an April 11 flyover of Las Vegas hospitals to salute front-line workers and flyovers near Colorado Springs following the Air Force Academy’s graduation on April 18.
The Blue Angels’ recent shows have been canceled or postponed, and the Thunderbirds’ 2020 show schedule has been postponed at least through May. On Tuesday, the squads were spotted doing a joint training exercise near Pensacola.
Mayor Jim Kenney’s office confirmed it had not received any notice of a flyover in Philadelphia.
“The City is aware of the possibility that the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds are considering a regional flyover,” a spokesperson said Wednesday in a statement, “but the Navy (who would be producing it) has not shared a firm plan, route, or date with us."
“If and when a plan is solidified,” she added, “the City will issue guidance to the public about recommended ways to watch it safely" while abiding by stay-at-home orders and social-distancing recommendations.