Luke Air Force Base and the Arizona’s Air National Guard honored Arizona front line responders with a 15-aircraft flyover today, May 1, 2020.
F-35 Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the 56th Fighter Wing and 944th Fighter Wing and a KC-135 Stratotanker from and 161st Air Refueling Wing flew over 11 cities in the Phoenix metropolitan area as a tour de force in a Total Force effort comprised of active duty, Air Force Reserve and ANG Airmen working together to raise spirits and honor front-line workers during the Coronavirus Disease-2019 pandemic.
“This community flyover was an opportunity to extend our heartfelt gratitude and salute all of the healthcare workers, first responders, military members and essential personnel who are hard at work on the front lines fighting the coronavirus,” said Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander. “This training event also showcased our continued ability to integrate with our total force partners from the 944th Fighter Wing and the 161st Air Refueling Wing.”
Pilots in the formation included the commander, vice commander and operations group commander of the 56th Fighter Wing, the commander and operations group commander of the 944th Fighter Wing, and leadership from all of the fighter squadrons at Luke.
“From all the pilots and aircrew flying and ground personnel supporting this undertaking we wish Arizona a speedy recovery from COVID-19,” said Lt. Col. Jason Bartels, 56th Fighter Wing Program Integration Office chief and lead operations planner for the event. “We are truly grateful to live in such a wonderful state with its unwavering support for our mission to train the world’s best fighter pilots.”
The aircraft flew over 11 cities, 20 hospitals and multiple major landmarks in the area. The flight was part of a larger Air Force movement to honor and show the Department of Defense’s respect to all front-line workers in this challenging time. Defending the homeland has taken a new shape, and the Air Force is proud to serve alongside first responders and essential personnel in the COVID-19 response efforts.
“Our frontline medical workers are heroes,” said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. “Today’s flyover was a perfect symbol of the strength, resolve, and unity of our doctors, nurses and emergency responders have displayed in the fight against COVID-19. Arizona is grateful to them and Luke Air Force Base for this tremendous recognition.”
Air Force Salutes flyovers are a way for the U.S. Air Force to show appreciation to the thousands of American heroes who are at the front line battling COVID-19 and providing the support that America needs. Luke AFB conducted Luke Salutes at no additional cost to taxpayers; it served as training for the pilots.
“Thank you to everyone in the valley for showing your support to our flyby while keeping frontline responders in your hearts,” said Canterbury. “Our community support throughout the valley remains second to none.”