In a repeat performance, the Minnesota National Guard will send fighter jets to the skies Wednesday to honor workers in all industries who are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.
Aircraft from the 934th Air Wing of the Air Force Reserve also will participate in the flyovers, which will take place over northern and southern Minnesota as part of Operation American Resolve.
Last week, the guard flew F-16s and C-130 Hercules aircraft over and near 15 hospitals, primarily in the Twin Cities metro area. Wednesday’s flyovers also will be near medical facilities, but are meant to thank all essential workers who have done their part to keep the state functioning during the stay at home order, said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard.
“We chose several hospitals as flyover points, but it is truly only a symbolic gesture, as the intent isn’t to honor only those facilities, but all the essential workers statewide,” Jensen said in a statement. “Whether you are a medical provider or a meat packing employee, a teacher or gas station attendant, an emergency responder or a garbage collector, your work and the care you provide have kept our state safe and functioning. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.”
Two F-16’s from the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth will fly over Two Harbors between 10:55 and 11:10 a.m. Other cities on the route include Silver Bay, Grand Marais, Ely, Virginia, Hibbing, Grand Rapids, Big Fork, Bemidji and Cloquet.
Another set of F-16s will fly from Duluth to International Falls by 11:10 a.m., then head to Baudette, Roseau, Thief River Falls, Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Alexandria, Crosby and Aitkin.
F-16s from Duluth also will fly over Hermantown and over northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
In southern Minnesota, two C-130s will fly over Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina between noon and 12:20 p.m. before continuing to Burnsville, Shakopee, New Prague, Mankato, New Ulm, Redwood Falls, Marshall, Luverne, Worthington, Jackson, Blue Earth, Albert Lea, Rochester and Northfield.
The flights are pricey. It costs between $8,300 and $8,800 an hour to fly an F-16 and between $9,100 and $9,800 per hour for each C-130 sent airborne, according to figures from the Pentagon.
“These flyovers are conducted at no additional cost to the taxpayer and serve as training for our pilots,” said Major Malinda Singleton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Air Force.
The flights scheduled for Wednesday will likely be the final statewide effort to salute front line workers, and were incorporated into previously scheduled training missions, the guard said.