By MIKE DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Writer
SOUTH BURLINGTON -- The 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard will honor front line COVID-19 responders and essential workers in the state with a flyover throughout Vermont on Friday.
A formation of four F-35 aircrafts will be in the Franklin, Grand Isle and Chittenden County area for about 10 minutes starting shortly after 1 p.m., the guard said. All times are approximate.
The F-35A Lightning IIs will take off at noon from the Vermont Air National Guard Base in South Burlington to begin its 90 minute flyover. The flyover is part of Operation America Strong, an Air Force effort to salute healthcare workers across the country.
“Our healthcare professionals, emergency responders and essential workers have served on the frontlines of this pandemic, putting the health and safety of their neighbors above their own and I cannot thank them enough for their commitment and service,” Governor Phil Scott said.
“They’ve worked long, hard hours and given so much throughout this once-in-a-century crisis. They are heroes to us all,” Scott said.
Doctors, nurses, other health care workers, first responders, store clerks, media members and others have been on the front lines in Vermont since the deadly COVID-19 scare began in March.
“On behalf of the Air Force and the Vermont Air National Guard, we are proud to recognize and pay tribute to our healthcare professionals, essential personnel and first responders throughout Vermont,” said Col. David “Caesar” Shevchik, Commander of the 158th Fighter Wing.
“This flyover is in honor of their professionalism, selfless service and commitment to our state and citizens when we need them most,” Shevchik said.
The F-35s will go down the western side of Vermont over Middlebury, Rutland and Bennington, head east to Brattleboro, where they will head north. The aircraft will go up the eastern side of Vermont flight path over White River Junction, to Randolph, Berlin and Morristown.
The Green Mountain Boys will head to St. Johnsbury and Newport before turning west for St. Albans. The flight path will likely take the F-35s through the Champlain Islands from St. Albans and down the west side of the state to the Burlington area before landing about 1:30 p.m..
Vermonters are reminded to maintain all social distancing guidelines and refrain from traveling to local hospitals or gathering in large groups to view the flyover.