Thunderbirds captain excited to soar over Texas, hopes flyover resonates for a lifetime

State News

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds show their support for frontline COVID-19 healthcare workers and first responders with a flyover above Las Vegas on Saturday, April 11, 2020. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will fly over Austin Wednesday afternoon.

It’s part of the Pentagon’s “Operation America Strong” involving the Navy’s Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, a joint venture started in April. The teams perform flyovers in solidarity with Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thunderbirds Captain Kyle Oliver said the response to these flyovers has been tremendous.

“There were videos all over Instagram and Facebook of people in their backyards looking up to see us, and hospital workers looking up to see us and everybody kind of joined together to celebrate to have a positive spot in an otherwise dark time,” he said.

Captain Oliver said they select cities within proximity of their posts in Las Vegas and Pensacola, keeping in mind those hit the hardest.

“Obviously, we wanted the largest stage as possible; not as big a stage for us as, but as big a stage as possible to show national-level support for all of those medical providers and frontline responders,” he said.

Last week, the Navy’s Blue Angels flew over Houston and Dallas. Wednesday, it’s the Thunderbirds’ turn to take the Texas skies, a task Oliver said many of his fellow pilots are looking forward to.

“Texas has a tremendous military presence,” he said. “There’s a lot of members of our team that are from Texas, so they’re happy to get back home and show their support.”

Oliver said it’s a small gesture he hopes will resonate for a lifetime.

“When we fly over all of the hospitals along our route it is not six red, white, and blue aircraft that are saluting those professionals, first responders, and essential workers; it’s essentially the United States of America,” Oliver said. “We are just a symbolic representation of a nation’s thanks for what they’re doing right now.”

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s flight path:

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