Jetstreams streaked across the skies above San Diego and Los Angeles as the Air Force's famous Thunderbirds honored frontline COVID-19 responders and essential workers with an aerial acrobatics show on Friday.
A formation of six F-16C/D Fighting Falcons first zig-zagged across San Diego County to fly over hospitals in the South Bay, downtown San Diego and Escondido before moving on to the Los Angeles area.
The show was meant as a salute to health care workers, first responders, military and other essential personnel while standing in solidarity with all Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One couple, Palomar Health nurse Jessica Borja and Mission Hospital ICU Nurse Jerry Borja, watched the flyover together from Escondido. The couple has a two-year-old son at home and are constantly fearful they may take the coronavirus home to their son. That's what made the flyover so touching.
"It means a lot to us, it really does, cause we work hard," Jessica Borja said.
“It was really amazing to see and hear too," Jerry Borja added. "It's different when you actually get to be here and see them as opposed to watching them on TV.”
Commander of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron Lt. Col. John Caldwell called it "an honor for our team to salute the countless Californians who have committed to keeping the communities safe during this difficult time in our nation."
Jerry Borja appreciated the recognition from the military.
“Its also a great experience to show how the military is also supporting us and how we support the military as well as, this is something that we’re all in together."
Residents along the flight path were met with a few moments of jet noise as the aircraft passed overhead, along with the sight of a half-dozen high- performance aircraft flying in precise formation.
The San Diego flyover flew north from Chula Vista, to the downtown San Diego, then looped over National City, Santee, El Cajon and La Mesa before moving north generally over Interstate 5. The squadron looped over Encinitas, then circled over Carlsbad before moving east to circle over Escondido.
Residents were urged to watch the show from their homes and maintain social distancing guidelines during the event. Air Force officials also advised people not to travel to landmarks or hospitals and avoid gathering in large groups to view the flyover, officials said.
The Air Force encouraged people who take photos to tag them on social media as #AmericaStrong and #Thunderbirds.