TAMPA — To honor Tampa Bay’s front-line healthcare workers in the pandemic, MacDill Air Force Base has launched a KC-135 Stratotanker this morning to fly over 12 major hospitals in the region.
“This community goes out of their way to honor our sacrifices,” said Air Force Col. Stephen Snelson, commander of the 6th Air Refueling Wing. “This is an honor for us to be able to display our gratitude to these warriors who protect our base and this community from this horrible virus.”
The approximately hour-long flight path was determined with the Federal Aviation Administration, accommodating hospitals along that path, a spokesman said. The KC-135 took off about 9:30 a.m.
The KC-135 departed from MacDill with plans to head south toward the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, according to a release.
MacDill says they will be “performing some training requirements for an hour” hence the 9:30 am departure and the start of the loop at about 10:30 a.m.
The aircraft will head back northward along Tampa Bay, then turn south and follow Interstate 75 to Sarasota, then turn north again through St. Petersburg before returning to the base over downtown. Some of the hospitals in the flight path include Tampa General Hospital, Brandon Regional Hospital and the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.
The aircraft provides aerial refueling capability for the United States Air Force and routinely departs from MacDill for training and refueling missions along the Gulf of Mexico and the southeast region.
Active-duty and reserve teams from the 6th Air Refueling Wing and the 927th Air Refueling Wing stationed at MacDill will pilot the flight.
MacDill on Thursday evening released these times that the KC-135s will fly over each hospital.
Tampa General Davis Island: 10:30 a.m.
Brandon Regional: 10:33 a.m.
Riverview Regional: 10:34 a.m.
South Bay Hospital:10:35 a.m.
Sarasota Memorial: 10:39 a.m.
St Anthony (St Pete): 10:54 a.m.
St Pete Gen Women’s Hospital: 10:55 a.m.
Bay Pines VA: 10:55 a.m.
Largo Medical Center: 10:56 a.m.
Children’s Medical Center: 10:58 a.m.
Tampa Gen ( North Tampa): 11:03 a.m.
USF: 11:04 a.m.
Tampa Gen Davis Island: 11:06 a.m.
Other bases have performed their own flyover salutes to healthcare workers including the Air Force Reserve’s 94th Airlift Wing at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, which flew the C-130H3 Hercules aircraft over North Georgia hospitals and the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base that sent a four-ship formation of fighter aircraft over Okaloosa County medical facilities on May 14.
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