Poor weather forced the Nebraska Air National Guard to cancel its planned flyover tribute to the state’s front-line medical personnel Wednesday afternoon.
No makeup date has been scheduled, said Maj. Scott Ingalsbe, a Nebraska National Guard spokesman.
A KC-135R Stratotanker from the Guard’s 155th Air Refueling Wing had planned to fly over 15 hospitals from Scottsbluff to Omaha early in the afternoon on its way home from an exercise.
The planned flight echoed similar overflights by the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds fighter demonstration teams, which have flown over several cities in the past two weeks, but none in or near Nebraska.
The Stratotanker, with the call sign HUSKR15, took off from its base at the Lincoln Airport at midmorning and refueled jets from the South Dakota Air National Guard’s 114th Fighter Wing.
But low clouds and drizzle hung over Nebraska, forcing HUSKR15’s pilot to cancel the tributes, Ingalsbe said.
The cross-state flyover was meant as a tribute to medical workers during the pandemic. It had been scheduled as part of a regular mission to minimize the cost. As a result, Ingalsbe said, it must be delayed until another training opportunity comes up.
“We’re calling it canceled,” Ingalsbe added, “but we hope to do future events of this nature.”
The Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds left Nebraska off their route for flyover salutes to medical personnel, but the Nebraska Air National Guard plans to fill in the gap.
A KC-135R Stratotanker from the 155th Air Refueling Wing in Lincoln will fly over 15 hospitals from Scottsbluff to Omaha on Wednesday.
“This is our special way of honoring our health care professionals and neighbors for how they have responded and come together as Nebraskans during these unprecedented times,” Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, the Nebraska National Guard’s adjutant general, said in a press release.
The flyover will begin at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff at 11:32 a.m. MDT. Other flyover locations, all Central Daylight Time:
- Great Plains Health Hospital, North Platte: 1:06 p.m.
- Kearney Regional Medical Center and Good Samaritan, Kearney: 1:29 p.m.
- Mary Lanning Health Care, Hastings: 1:41 p.m.
- St. Francis, Grand Island: 1:50 p.m.
- Columbus Community Hospital, Columbus: 2:07 p.m.
- Schuyler Hospital: 2:11 p.m.
- Methodist Fremont Health, Fremont: 2:18 p.m.
- Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha: 2:27 p.m.
- Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy, Omaha, 2:28 p.m.
- Lakeside Hospital, Omaha: 2:31 p.m.
- Midlands Hospital, Papillion: 2:33 p.m.
- St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Lincoln: 2:45 p.m.
- Bryan Medical Center’s west campus, Lincoln: 2:45 p.m.
Times could vary by up to 10 minutes, Guard officials said.
The four-engine aerial refueling tanker will fly over at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,500 feet at just over 200 mph, said Sgt. Lisa Crawford, a Nebraska Guard spokeswoman. It should be easily visible from the ground.
Guard officials are urging people to watch from their homes or while following social distancing guidelines.
The flyovers are part of a training flight and won’t cost the Guard any extra money, Maj. Scott Ingalsbe, a Guard spokesman, said in a press release.
“The tribute … is a time-honored aviation tradition of rendering honors and recognition to outstanding individuals and groups,” Ingalsbe said.
The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels high-speed flight demonstration teams have gained widespread publicity recently for their tribute flights to medical personnel over large American cities, but not Omaha, Kansas City or Des Moines. The Blue Angels were scheduled to fly over Detroit, Chicago and Indianapolis on Tuesday.