Military jets to cross Riverside County skies in salute to medical workers

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MORENO VALLEY (CNS) – Two huge jets are scheduled to fly over 17 medical facilities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties today as part of a salute to recognize frontline health care workers amid the coronavirus emergency.

The 90-minute flyovers from March Air Reserve Base are slated to get underway about 1 p.m., involving a massive C-17 Globemaster III, which hauls cargo, and a KC-135 Stratotanker, which is an air-to-air refueling jet. Both planes and their crews — all Air Force reservists — are attached to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing.

“These flyovers incur no additional cost to the taxpayer,” according to a Wing statement. “Residents in the areas should be able to see the KC-135 and the C-17 from the safety of their homes.”

Under Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the heavy jets must stay a minimum of 1,000 feet above populated areas, but they generally fly higher than that for safety, according to military officials.

The flyovers are plotted to ensure the jets pass over the following 17 medical facilities:
— Arrowhead Regional Medical Center;
— Corona Regional Medical Center;
— Desert Regional Medical Center;
— Inland Valley Regional Medical Center;
— Jerry Pettis Memorial VA Hospital;
— JFK Memorial Hospital;
— Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, in both Moreno Valley and Riverside;
— Lake Elsinore Family Care Center;
— Loma Linda Children’s Hospital;
— Menifee Global Medical Center;
— Parkview Community Hospital;
— Rancho Springs Medical Center;
— Riverside Community Hospital;
— Riverside University Medical Center;
— San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital; and
— Temecula Valley Hospital.

The event is part of “Operation America Strong,” which the U.S. Department of Defense authorized in April as a morale booster amid the virus crisis.

In some locations, the military’s aerobatics teams — the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds — are engaging in flyovers. The Thunderbirds will fly over San Diego and Los Angeles counties on Friday.

“I hope all residents who see or hear the flyover will turn their thoughts to the brave women and men serving to contain the coronavirus,” Moreno Valley Mayor Yxstian Gutierrez said. “Health care workers are risking their own safety, working night and day to treat and protect the rest of us. They deserve a hero’s salute like this.”