A search and rescue plane and two rescue helicopters assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s Westhampton Beach-based 106th Rescue Wing will conduct a flyover across Eastern Long Island this Friday, May 15 to salute healthcare, essential workers and first responders dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Weather permitting, the flyover will take off from Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach at approximately 12 p.m. and will pass over Southampton, East Hampton, Greenport and Riverhead. It will continue west along the Island’s north shore, passing towns such as Rocky Point, East Setauket, Stony Brook, Hicksville, Glen Cove and New Hyde Park, then fly back along the south shore over Long Beach, Amityville, Bay Shore, Commack, Sayville and Shirley before concluding at around 2 p.m.
The flight will feature one of the wing’s giant HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft and two HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters flying in formation. View the 106th Rescue Wing Facebook page for the most up-to-date times, in the event conditions delay the flyover or make it impossible on Friday.
Spectators are asked to stay safe and adhere to all social distancing and public health guidance during the flyover.
“From the men and women of the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, it is an honor to show our support and thanks to the many first responders, medical workers, essential personnel and military members out there working hard during these challenging times for us all,” 106th Rescue Wing commander Col. Michael Bank, says in the flyover announcement, adding, “We hope that when our first responders on the front lines, friends and neighbors all across Long Island look up in the sky and see their hometown 106th Rescue Wing flying overhead they will know we appreciate all they are doing in this tough fight against COVID-19. We are in one of the hardest hit areas in the nation. This is our aerial salute to you all! Thank you!”
Friday’s event is part of a nationwide series of Air Force Salutes flyovers being conducted to honor those on the frontlines of the pandemic. Called Operational American Resolve, the overall effort involves local Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units conducting flyovers of cities across the U.S.
These flights also demonstrate that the Air Force maintains the readiness required to defend the United States, and they waste no taxpayer dollars because the pilots and aircrews are required to fly each month to remain qualified. Crews use the same skills in flyovers that they would in combat.
The 106th Rescue Wing currently has 150 Airmen deployed as part of the New York National Guard’s response to the COVID 19 pandemic. 106th Airmen have worked alongside doctors and nurses at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, are staffing coronavirus testing sites on Long Island and have assisted in New York City. Airmen from the106th Rescue Wing have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and have responded to state emergencies such as the September 11 attacks on New York City, Superstorm Sandy and the current pandemic response.
“For us this is incredibly historic,” 106th Rescue Wing Public Affairs Officer Major Michael O’Hagan said on Thursday. “This is not that’s repeatable any time soon.”
In other words, don’t miss it.