U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstrate a powerful message of unity


Photo Courtesy of Matt Luedke

Six U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over hospitals in the Austin community. The flyover is part of the Air Force’s national #AmericaStrong campaign where they perform flyovers to honor and recognize the crucial work of the nation’s health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cade Spencer, Managing Editor

The jets announce their arrival with a loud rumble that almost seems to shake the ground. As if they are shooting star, the jets dart quickly into the distance, leaving only a light tremble behind. 

On Wednesday, May 13, six F-16C/D Fighting Falcons (Thunderbirds) of The U.S. Air Force performed a flyover in the Austin community.

“Watching the jet flyover was an exciting, spectacular experience,” Bowie substitute Kathleen Luedke said. “We watched it from ACC Pinnacle near the Y where we were high enough to view the jets five times, distantly and up close.”

As part of a national effort by The Air Force to honor the service of health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thunderbirds flew over local hospitals.

“It literally brings me to tears to see and feel those planes that represent the sacrifice that has been made and is continuing to be made to keep me and those I love safe,” Bowie parent Randy Spencer said.

In order to cover the entire Austin community, the jets started in Leander and proceeded to fly over Cedar Park, Georgetown, Round Rock, Pflugerville, central Austin, Lakeway, Buda, and ended near Kyle and San Marcos. 

“The message of the Thunderbirds’ flyover was a message of standing in solidarity with all Americans to show our support, respect, honor and appreciation to all the essential first responders during the Coronavirus crisis,” Luedke said. “The jets’ speed, formation precision, and noise were thrilling.”

The series of flyovers performed by The U.S. Air Force have been titled #AmericaStrong flyovers, and the Thunderbirds’ next location can be tracked on their twitter page @AFThunderbirds. 

“I think that if we feel united as a country it will help us feel less alone during these times,” sophomore Emma Dinwiddie said. “If we feel less alone, it will help us not go out to try and meet other people.”

Although the flyover may have been quick, Luedke believes it presented a powerful message for the entire Austin community.

“It is very important that we come together to make shared sacrifices and to seek consensus and compliance on stay-at-home orders, wearing masks, and self- distancing,” Luedke said. “So that we can save lives, possibly our own.”