Flyovers are scheduled to take place every one to two days until mid-May in select cities.

The popular aerobatics squadrons from the Navy and the Air Force, the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds, are teaming up to perform flyovers in U.S. cities to honor essential workers of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched by the Pentagon, the flyovers are part of Operation America Strong, a collaboration between the Air Force and Navy designed to recognize the efforts of health care workers, first responders, military, and other essential workers as well as unite Americans during this time.

Pilots are required to fulfill a minimum number of in-air hours. Since both military teams have had to cancel performances due to the COVID-19 crisis, these flyovers are helping to sustain pilot flight requirements in addition to bringing a bit of cheer and recognition to some of the hardest-hit U.S. cities.

The Air Force’s Thunderbirds, formed in 1953, use F-16C Fighting Falcons and F-16D twin-seat trainers to do their aerial acrobatics and signature “bomb burst” maneuvers. The planes are white with red and blue arrows on the wings.


The Navy’s Blue Angels, formed in 1946, use F/A-18 Hornets to perform their high-speed fly-overs and signature formations. The planes are royal blue with yellow accents. It’s the second-oldest formal aerobatic team after the French Patrouille de France, which was formed in 1931.

Blue Angel and Thunderbird flyovers are scheduled to take place every one to two days until mid-May in select cities. Some flyovers will be a joint endeavor, and some will be just one of the teams. This is so that more cities can be covered.

According to a Facebook post, Gen. Dave Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and Adm. Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations said,

“We’re excited to fly over cities across America as our way of saying thanks to the healthcare workers, first responders, and all the people who selflessly run into the breach working to keep America strong. This is also our way of showing that we are all in this together and that America’s spirit will prevail.”

Joint flyovers include Washington, Baltimore, New York, Newark, Trenton, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Austin. The teams will fly in a formation of six F-16 C/C Fighting Falcons and six F-18 C/D Hornets. 

The Blue Angels will fly solo over other cities that include Miami, Tampa, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville in Florida; Norfolk and Virginia Beach in Virginia; Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Kingsville, and Corpus Christi.

The Thunderbirds will fly solo over San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon.

The first cities to see flyovers were Philadelphia, Trenton, Newark, and New York City on Tuesday, April 28. 

Flyovers will not include stunts. All dates haven’t yet been announced, so be sure to check often. Visit the Air Force Thunderbirds or the U.S. Navy Blue Angels on Facebook to stay up-to-date on flyover times and schedules. Use #AmericaStrong to share your photos and videos with your social circles. 

The Thunderbirds, based at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, have been practicing with the Blue Angels at their home base at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

As with everything else during this time, residents are urged to view within a socially distant range.

Have you ever seen a Blue Angels or Thunderbirds performance? Let us know in the comments.