Planes from MacDill Air Force Base will fly over a dozen Tampa Bay area hospitals on Friday to pay tribute to health care workers fighting the spread of COVID-19.
Two of MacDill's KC-135 Stratotankers, known as “gas stations in the sky” for their ability to refuel other aircraft midair, will do the flyover.
The KC-135s were originally scheduled to launch from MacDill around 10:30 a.m., but that has been pushed up to 9:30 a.m. due to the chance for inclement weather.
They will head south toward the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. After a short delay, the formation will head back north along the bay, turn south and follow I-75 to Sarasota, and then turn north through St Petersburg before returning to the base over downtown.
Col. Benjamin Robins, Vice Commander of the 6th Air Refueling Wing, said it's a way to give back to the health workers who are keeping people safe and helping MacDill in its mission.
"This community goes out of their way to honor our sacrifices, and it's our chance to display our gratitude to those that are protecting this community from this horrible virus," he said.
"They're courageous service in and around the community each day directly enables the Air Force and all the other services so we can go out and defend our country, and we just want to honor them for that."
Members of the 6th Air Refueling Wing will be joined by a reserve team from the 927th Air Refueling Wing, which has deployed some medical workers to aid coronavirus hotspots such as New York.
“We have around 20 Reserve Citizen Airmen currently deployed in the fight against COVID-19,” said Col. Douglas Stouffer, 927th Air Refueling Wing Commander. “This flight is a way to honor all health care workers and first responders and remind them we are all in this together.”
These are the hospitals they’ll fly over:
- Tampa General Hospital (first and last stop)
- Brandon Regional Hospital
- Riverview Regional Hospital
- South Bay Hospital
- Sarasota Memorial Hospital
- St Anthony’s Hospital
- St. Petersburg General Hospital
- Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
- Largo Medical Center
- Children’s Medical Center
- Tampa General, Westchase
- University of South Florida
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