CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A C-17 from the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard depart Charlotte Thursday morning to salute frontline workers across the state.
People and organizations from all across the country have been showing their gratitude for the frontline workers who have been risking their lives to help fight the coronavirus.
On Thursday at 10 a.m. the C-17 departed from the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and traveled to the Asheville area, Winston-Salem, Raleigh-Durham, Goldsboro, Greenville, Jacksonville, Wilmington and back to Charlotte.
"This Air Force Salute is to demonstrate the Department of the Air Force’s continued readiness during the national COVID-19 response, while saluting the American Heroes at the forefront in our fight against COVID-19. These flyovers will incur no additional cost to the taxpayers and are being conducted as part of regularly scheduled training."
The route covered cities from Asheville to the coast and in between.
"We thought it appropriate as Airforce members to use the flyover as a salute to those people who are, you know, essential employees, nurses, doctors, those battling the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontlines,” said Major Joseph King, the pilot.
King said the Air National Guard typically does nearly 1,000 flyovers a year for patriotic events, holidays, and sporting events. This time, they wanted to do one as a tribute to those on the frontline of the pandemic.
"Hopefully it brings them a little bit of a sense of pride,” King said. “Hopefully it brings them a sense of hope and reminds us all that, you know, we're all Americans in this battle together."
King said the flyover is a way to salute the community and is considered a sign of respect.
As the plane made its way back into Charlotte, it passed over a Harris Teeter Distribution Center, Novant Health Presbyterian, and Atrium Health. Its final pass made a loop around Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina as a tribute to the volunteers and staff working hard to feed the community.
"The fact that they're doing that to honor us, the Air National Guard, and just the fact that we're included with people like our healthcare responders and our first responders is amazing to me because those are the people that we really want to send our admiration out to,” said Kay Carter, CEO at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.
With children out of school, seniors staying home, and the escalating unemployment rate, Carter said volunteers and staff have been working nonstop to fill the needs of the community.
"The need is just absolutely unlike anything I've ever seen,” Carter said, “and I've lived through more hurricanes than I can count."
Carter said the staff is packing food boxes around the clock to keep up with the demand. She said the food bank could mostly use monetary donations through this time or food donations of all the same items to cut down on sorting.
Thursday's flyovers were part of a nationwide effort to recognize healthcare workers, emergency responders, food industry, and other essential workers.
Route of Flight:
All times are subject to change.
Manna Food Bank
Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center
J.F.K. Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center
J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center
Frye Regional Medical Hospital
Iredell Memorial Hospital
Wake Forest Baptist Hospital
Bowman Gray Campus
Second Harvest Food Bank of NW NC
High Point Regional
Moses Cone Memorial Hospital
Lab Corp Burlington Corporate Headquarters
UNC Chapel Hill Hospital
Durham VA Medical Center
Duke University Hospital
Central Regional Hospital
Murdoch Developmental Center
R.J. Blackley Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center
UNC REX Hospital
NC National Guard JFHQ
Wake Med Hospital
Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC
Downtown Raleigh Flyover
O’berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center
Longleaf Neuro-Medical Treatment
Vidant Medical Center
Walter B. Jones Alcohol & Drug Abuse Treatment Center
Greenville Veteran’s Health Care Center
Caswell Development Center
Onslow Memorial Hospital
New Hanover Regional Medical Center
Harris Teeter Distribution Center
Novant Health Presbyterian Med Ctr
Atrium Health Charlotte
Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina