High in the Sky

Air Force Thunderbirds to fly over San Antonio in tribute to healthcare workers

Thunderbirds to fly over San Antonio in tribute to healthcare workers

Thunderbirds Blue Angels military planes in the sky
The Thunderbirds head to San Antonio this week. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Priest/DVIDS

Update: Due to the rain, the Thunderbirds are pushing the San Antonio start time to 2:20 pm.


After an announcement, a cancellation, another announcement, and a delay, it appears the Air Force Thunderbirds are flying into (over) town. On Wednesday, May 13, the Air Force's elite demonstration squad will take to the skies over San Antonio as a thank you to healthcare professionals on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19.

The flight was originally scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, but forecasted storms delayed the squadron.

The Air Force squadron will begin their mission in San Antonio, where they will fly over the Alamo City beginning at 1:20 pm. The SA show is expected to last about 30 minutes.

The Thunderbirds will then fly over Austin at 2:40 pm; that mission is expected to last about 25 minutes.

An exact flight pattern of the six F-16C/D Fighting Falcons was released on Tuesday. They will begin flying over Helotes at 1:20 pm before heading over downtown San Antonio around 1:30-ish. An exact plan can be found below:

In a release, the Air Force says residents along the flight path can "expect a few moments of jet noise as the aircraft pass overhead, along with the sight of six high-performance aircraft flying in precise formation." 

“We are honored to extend our gratitude to Texans in San Antonio and Austin who have been working hard to keep their communities safe,” said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbirds commander and leader, in a release. “We want Texans to look up to see the display of American resolve and know that the American spirit will prevail beyond this difficult time in our nation.”

The Air Force also urges residents to maintain social distancing and refrain from traveling to landmarks and hospitals in order to catch the show.

Both the Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels have spent the past week flying over some of the nation's biggest cities, beginning in New York and Washington, D.C. before heading to places like Dallas and Houston on May 6.

The Washington Post first reported the mission, later dubbed Operation America Strong by President Donald Trump, as a way to salute those first responders currently battling the novel coronavirus pandemic.