LATHAM, NY (05/12/2020) (readMedia)-- A search and rescue plane and two rescue helicopters assigned to the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing will conduct a flyover across Eastern Long Island on Friday, May 15 to salute healthcare, essential workers and first responders dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flyover, which will begin approximately 12:15 p.m. over Riverhead and will conclude by 1 p.m. ending over Jones Beach, will feature one of the wing's HC-130J search and rescue aircraft and two HH-60G rescue helicopters flying in formation.
Please understand the event is subject to change based on weather or other conditions. View the 106th Rescue Wing Facebook page for the most up-to-date times and event photos and videos. We ask that everyone stay safe and adhere to all social distancing and public health guidance when viewing the flyover.
The HC-130J Combat King II can drop specially trained pararescue Airmen and equipment and are also used to refuel the HH-60G rescue helicopters in mid-air. The HH-60G Pave Hawk is able to lower pararescuemen onto the ground to carry out rescue operations.
The 106th Rescue Wing is one of three units in the Air National Guard with these unique capabilities.
"From the men and women of the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing, it is an honor to show our support and thanks to the many first responders, medical workers, essential personnel and military members out there working hard during these challenging times for us all," said Col. Michael Bank, the commander of the 106th Rescue Wing.
"We hope that when our first responders on the front lines, friends and neighbors, all across Long Island look up in the sky and see their hometown 106th Rescue Wing flying overhead they will know we appreciate all they are doing in this tough fight against COVID-19. We are in one of the hardest hit areas in the nation. This is our aerial salute to you all! Thank you!," Bank said.
The 106th Rescue Wing currently has 150 Airmen deployed as part of the New York National Guard's response to the COVID 19 pandemic. 106th Airmen have worked alongside doctors and nurses at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, are staffing coronavirus testing sites on Long Island, and assisted in New York City.
The flyover is part of a nationwide series of flyovers being conducted to honor those on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Dubbed Air Force Salutes, the nation-wide series of flyovers involves local Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units conducting flyovers of cities across the U.S. to recognize those involved in working to contain the COVID-19 effort.
The overall effort is called Operational American Resolve.
The flight also demonstrates that the Air Force maintains the readiness required to defend the United States.
The flights cost no extra taxpayer dollars because the pilots and aircrews are required to fly each month to remain qualified. The skills involved in conducting a flyover are the same skills crews use in combat.
The program kicked off on April 28 with a combined flight over New York and Long Island by the Air Force's Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration teams.
The formation will take off from Gabreski Air National Guard Base shortly after noon on May 15. The flyover route will go over:
• Rocky Point;
• East Setauket;
• Stony Brook;
• Blue Point;
• Bay Shore;
• And finish at Jones Beach.
The 106th Rescue Wing can trace its history back to the 102nd Aero Squadron formed by the New York National Guard in 1917. Following World War I the unit was reorganized as the 102nd Observation Squadron, one of the first 29 formally recognized aviation units in the National Guard.
Since the end of World War II the 106th has served as a bomber unit, a fighter unit, an airlift unit and an air refueling unit.
In 1975 the 106th became an air rescue unit and has served in that capacity ever since
In December 1994, wing members took part in a 15-hour rescue mission 750 miles out in the Atlantic, which required the helicopters to refuel 10 times.
In April 2017, a wing HC-130 flew 1,300 miles out into the Atlantic and pararescue Airmen jumped into the ocean to save two badly burned sailors on board the Motor Vessel Tamar.
106th Rescue Wing Airmen have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and have responded to state emergencies ranging from the September 11 attacks on New York City, to Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and the current pandemic response.