2020 Salute to America and The Great Cities of the American Revolution

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The Great Cities of the American Revolution Flyover

2020 marked the nation’s 244th birthday. Due to nationwide Covid-19 virus concerns, most activities normally associated with the holiday (fireworks, parades, concerts, etc.) were canceled. In an effort to honor America’s Independence Day in a safe manner, President Trump requested the DoD conduct military flybys over various parts of the country.

The weekend festivities kicked off on Friday July 3rd with the president giving a speech at Mount Rushmore, SD that was preceded by a military flyover consisting of two USAF B-1Bs  and three F-16s, four Army HH-60s, and the grand finale- the USN Blue Angels ‘Bomb-Burst’ over Mount Rushmore. The next day, July 4th, the celebration began with an aerial salute to the Great Cities of the American Revolution.

At about 1:00pm ET, a gaggle of eight refueling aircraft consisting of four KC-135s and four KC-10s tankers all using the call sign SPUR, assembled over the ocean off Bangor, ME in the W-102 warning area. The tankers were responsible for refueling the twenty-one planes that would be participating in a four cities flyby. For the next two-and-half hours twenty-four military aircraft made their way up the east coast to join the tankers and take on needed gas. The formation of flyby jets consisted of six USAF Thunderbirds F-16s, four Seymour Johnson AFB F-15Es , four Langley AFB F-22s, four USMC Beaufort MCAS F-35Bs, one Dyess AFB B-1B, one Minot AFB B-52 and one Whiteman AFB B-2. The fighters and bombers used call signs that signified America’s most recent armed conflicts; the B-52, NAMM (Vietnam), the F-15Es STORM (Desert Storm), the B-1B TERROR (War on Terrorism) and, the F-22s, B-2 and F-35Bs FUTURE (Stealth Aircraft). Once established in the area, three spare bombers (B-1B, B-2 and B-52) that were not needed returned to their respective home bases.

After separating themselves from the tankers, the military procession commenced their flyover of cities that played major roles in the American Revolution.

Boston

Starting at 4:00pm, Thunderbird #1 led the package with the rest of the planes trailing in a two-mile separation back-to-back formation. The aircraft flew 1,000 feet above the ground over significantly historical locations in four cities. Those cities and sites were: Boston, the U.S.S. Constitution; New York City, the Statue of Liberty; Philadelphia, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell; and Baltimore, Fort McHenry.

New York City at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge

During their cities tour, the contingent of planes were not only in contact with the various air traffic control facilities, but the entire operation was controlled and monitored by HUNTRESS- U.S. Northern Command (NORAD). The day’s flying activities provided military training as well as an opportunity for the public to witness the United States Armed Forces demonstrating their professional capabilities.

Philadelphia

Before moving on to their final destination, Washington, DC, the cadre of jets met three more SPUR tankers (two KC-135s and a KC-10) off Atlantic City, NJ in the W-107 warning area. At about 6:30pm, they departed the warning area to join a large parade of heritage and modern military aircraft, representing all military services. Flying over the nation’s capital, the participating planes were types from WWII, The Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, Desert Storm and the War on Terrorism. Following the air show, the evening’s 2020 Salute to America was capped off with a thirty-five minute fireworks display.

 

Boston Flyover photos above, by Kevin Burke

New York City Flyover photos above, by Mike Colaner.

Philadelphia Flyover photos above, by Howard German.

Baltimore Flyover photos above, by Shawn Byers.

Mike Colaner reports that: “I was at Fort Wadsworth (Gateway National Park) on Staten Island for the Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore leg of the flyover. I did some research and this is what I was able to find on the aircraft involved.” The B-1, B-2 and B-52 all had spare aircraft airborne for the flights.

THE FLYOVER AIRCRAFT:

B-1B 86-0107, 28th Bomb Squadron Dyess AFB, “Dragon Slayer”

B-2A 89-0129 13th Bomb Squadron “Grim Reapers” Whiteman AFB, “Spirit of Georgia”

B-52H 60-007 23rd Bomb Squadron “Bomber Barons” Minot AFB

F-15E 87-175 335th Fighter Squadron “Chiefs” Seymour Johnson AFB

F-15E 87-193 334th Fighter Squadron “Fighting Eagles” Seymour Johnson AFB

F-15E 89-478 333rd Fighter Squadron “Lancers” Seymour Johnson AFB

F-15E 89-498 335th Fighter Squadron “Chiefs” Seymour Johnson AFB

F-16 USAF Thunderbirds Nellis AFB

F-16 USAF Thunderbirds Nellis AFB

F-16 USAF Thunderbirds Nellis AFB

F-16 USAF Thunderbirds Nellis AFB

F-16 USAF Thunderbirds Nellis AFB

F-16 USAF Thunderbirds Nellis AFB

F-22 USAF F-22 Demo Team Langley AFB

F-22 USAF F-22 Demo Team Langley AFB

F-22 192nd Fighter Wing Virginia Air National Guard Langley AFB

F-22 192nd Fighter Wing Virginia Air National Guard Langley AFB

F-35B USMC VMFAT 501 “Warlords” MCAS Beaufort 

F-35B USMC VMFAT 501 “Warlords” MCAS Beaufort

F-35B USMC VMFAT 501 “Warlords” MCAS Beaufort

F-35B USMC VMFAT 501 “Warlords” MCAS Beaufort

TANKER SUPPORT:

KC-10A 83-0078 60th AMW Travis AFB

KC-10A 83-0079 305th AMW Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

KC-10A 83-0081 305th AMW Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

KC-10A 84-0192 305th AMW Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

KC-135R 57-1419 161st ARW Arizona Air National Guard (The oldest jet in the USAF)

KC-135R 57-1436 134th ARW Tennessee Air National Guard

KC-135R 58-0027 151st ARW Utah Air National Guard

KC-135T 58-0072 171st ARW Pennsylvania Air National Guard

KC-135R 60-0341 186th ARW Mississippi Air National Guard  

KC-135R 62-3526 155th ARW Nebraska Air National Guard

Flyover graphics courtesy of the DOD Northern Command – “The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.”

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