Look up in the sky on Friday, May 15, for an aerial salute to those working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, based out of Westhampton, will conduct a flyover as a thank you to healthcare personnel, essential workers, and other first responders.
Three aircraft — an HC-130J search and rescue plane and two HH-60G search and rescue helicopters — will take off from the Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard base shortly before noon. In an updated route announced Thursday, the formation will first fly east to include the hospitals on the East End, first stopping at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. It will then head toward the East Hampton Healthcare Center, before turning to the North Fork. After flying over Shelter Island, the aircraft will fly over Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital at about 12:20 PM, before heading to Riverhead, where it will fly over Peconic Bay Medical Center.
The formation will migrate around Long Island, flying over St. Charles Hospital, Stony Brook University Hospital, Nassau University Medical Center, and several others.
“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,” Commander of the 106th Rescue Wing, Col. Michael Bank, said in a statement.
The flyovers, dubbed air force salutes, are being conducted across the country.
“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,” Bank said. “We are in one of the hardest hit areas in the nation. This is our aerial salute to you all! Thank you!”
The New York National Guard has asked viewers maintain proper social distancing and adhere to public health guidelines.
The 106th Rescue Wing has been playing a part in the state’s response to COVID-19 in an effort called Operational American Resolve. The group has been working alongside doctors and nurses at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, at coronavirus testing sites on Long Island, and assisting other efforts in New York City. Currently, 150 air men and women are deployed.
Good weather conditions are a must, so the flyover is subject to change. The 106th Rescue Wing will update the public of any changes on its Facebook page. A video will be posted just before the aircraft take off.