Combat-ready jets cruise over Provo to salute COVID-19 frontline workers

Healthcare workers at the Utah Valley Hospital in Provo snap pictures of four fighter wings as they fly over Provo on their formation flyover across the state. (Preston Crawley)

Four fighter jets flew over Provo this afternoon in a formation flyover to salute and support everyone fighting against the COVID-19 outbreak.

The flyover began at Hill Air Force base and flew across the entire state of Utah.

“When planning the flyover, we tried to reach as many healthcare facilities and densely populated areas as possible in one trip,” said captain Kip Sumner, the public affairs advisor for the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team.

Sumner said this specific flyover was a four-ship “close” formation. The combat-ready 388th Fighter Wing and three F-35 jets flew with only a few feet of separation between them.

The formation flew about 1,000 feet above ground level, according to captain Kristin Wolfe, the pilot who led the flyover. Wolfe said the distance from the ground is closer than people are used to. The team usually flies about 2,000 feet above the ground when training.

There have been other formation flyovers in Utah, but none have been performed by the F-35 Demo Team. This is the first year the team has been located in Utah, having previously been at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, said Sumner. The size and length of the route of this flyover were also a first for the team.

The flyover not only showed appreciation for those on the front lines but also provided training for the pilots, said Sumner.

COVID-19 has altered the training for these pilots. To continue practicing safe social distancing, Sumner said they rotate crews, enable remote work for certain workers and require face masks when working in close proximity.

Citizens were encouraged to stay safe and continue practicing social distancing while they viewed the flyover.

Two hospital workers watch the formation flyover in front of the Utah Valley Hospital. (Preston Crawley)

“We want everyone to know that this flyover (was) for everyone in the country, not just those along the route,” said Sumner.

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