National Guard aircraft and crews have taken to the skies the last few weeks to honor COVID-19 front line workers and boost morale.
Dubbed “Operation American Resolve,” the flying salutes have crisscrossed the country and involved a number of Guard aircraft, including fighters, tankers and transports.
In all, the Guard has been involved in about 100 flyover sorties in 40 states and territories as part of the national mission, according to the National Guard Bureau. Active-component air-demonstration units, such as the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels, have also taken part.
“Our crews wanted to offer front line workers a sign of hope, to let them know we have their backs,” said Col. Derek Routt, the operations group commander of New Jersey’s 177th Fighter Wing.
The Guard flyovers have been coordinated by NGB’s air operations and public affairs staff, but local commanders have taken on the bulk of planning responsibility.
The flyovers were intended as a show of resilience to the American public, but aviators have also benefitted from being back in the cockpit. The flyovers are being complete concurrently with regularly scheduled training in order to keep costs in check and ensure Guard aviators remain proficient in their airframes.
“For us, it was nice to get back in the jet and to some normalcy since our training flights had been temporarily suspended,” said Capt. Trebor Taylor of the West Virginia Air Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing. “We would’ve flown over even more medical facilities if we weren’t limited by training requirements and time.”
Operation American Resolve began in late April. The White House has not specified when the mission will end.