TUCSON, Ariz. — Just before 2 p.m. Thursday, it was wheels up for the first of two A-10’s at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
Their mission—to say thank you to Tucson’s frontline workers and first responders.
Two F-16 Vipers from the 162nd Wing of the Arizona National Guard joined the A-10's in a diamond formation..
“Our hope is that they know that we are supportive of them," said Colonel Allen Kinn of the 162nd Wing. "You know that people have been supportive of the armed forces for so many years, and so for us to give back is really important to us.”
The “Saluting Pima” flight began in Green Valley and finished with a flyover of Downtown Tucson.
The idea was to salute as many hospitals and fire stations as possible.
The aircraft flew directly over Tucson Medical Center. Many hospital employees went outside to get a look as it passed.
“You know it gives us a few minutes to come outside and feel the togetherness of the community when we know so many people are sick,” said Brenda Carle, a transitional care coordinator with TMC. “It’s a nice pat on the back for everybody; the patients who were able to come out, the families, all the staff that were able to come outside. We just wave … we tip our hats back to them.”
The wives of three of the four pilots are local nurses, which makes this mission extra special for those pilots.
“It’s pretty exciting to be able to go out with the intent of supporting folks just like my wife that are out there working hard to do the best they can in order to help the community as much as possible,” said Captain Haden Fullam, one of the A-10 pilots.
“The frontline workers out there for COVID, something that we’ve never experienced before, are just out there doing the job and they’re working hard and they’re putting everything they can into it. So, to be able to show our appreciation in a small way, it’s a great opportunity,” said Major Cody Wilton of the A-10 demo team.
The thank you flight took weeks of planning, as officials had to get permission from both the Air Force and the FAA to organize it.