Jets will fly over peninsula to honor health care workers

Aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard will fly over Alaska on Friday to honor frontline COVID-19 responders and essential workers.

On the Kenai Peninsula, the aircraft will be visible from late morning through early afternoon on May 15. Four USAF F-22 Raptors (3rd Wing) will roar across the sky in Seward, Homer, Soldotna, Kenai and Sterling as well as Girdwood, Anchorage, Eagle River and Whittier during that time period. Estimated flight times will be announced on the Joint Base Elmendort Richardson Facebook page on Friday.

Military officials said in a press release from JBER that residents should be able to see the flyovers from their homes and advised them to maintain social distancing guidelines during the events. They also said people should refrain from gathering in large groups to view the aircraft.

Elsewhere in the state on May 15, two C-17 Globemaster IIIs with blended aircrew of Air National Guard and active duty Air Force airmen will conduct flyovers in Wasilla, Palmer, Valdez, Cordova, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka.

Military aircraft also flew over the state earlier this week in Bethel, Nome and Kotzebue.

According to the press release, the flyovers are allowed as part of an approved training mission and are part of the Air Force Salutes initiative designed to show appreciation to the health care workers and others working around the world in battling the pandemic and to lift morale in communities across America.

“Health care professionals are the indispensable line of defense against COVID-19, and this is one way we can show our gratitude for what they are doing in hospitals and healthcare facilities across Alaska and the nation,” Alaska Air National Guard Commander Brig. Gen. Scott Howard said in the press release.

“We’re so grateful for everything citizens throughout Alaska have done these past few weeks,” U.S. Air Force Col. Robert Davis, commander of the 3rd Wing, said in the press release. “Supporting both us and society at large, everyone from health care workers to first responders have helped make sure we stay healthy and safe. These flyovers are just a small gesture to show our appreciation for the sacrifice and support given by everyone in our communities. Thank you for everything you’ve done!”

U.S. Air Force Maj. Steve Ludwig, a pilot and aircraft commander with the 211th Rescue Squadron, also said in the press release, “We are honored to do this for the frontline workers and the state of Alaska. We want people to know that we are ready to serve our communities when we are called upon.”

“I encourage everyone to show support to our essential workers for COVID-19 in an act of patriotism by waving American flags in solidarity as the F-22s fly over the lower Kenai Peninsula,” said Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) in an email.

Detailed flight routes and estimated flight times will be released the day prior to each flyover on the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Facebook page at Times may be as much as 30 minutes later than scheduled depending on weather.

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