WHEATLAND – A large crowd of perhaps 200 people gathered around Banner Health System in Wheatland last Friday morning to witness the Wyoming Air National Guard do a flyover salute to the healthcare workers who have been essential in fighting COVID-19 on the front lines. They were honored as heroes for their service and willingness to face the virus head-on.
Excitement was high in the crowd of community spectators and healthcare workers who began to hear the echo of the huge C-130 aircraft off the mountains as it approached Wheatland. Before it was seen, it could be heard.
“There it is,” said someone from the crowd as the aircraft burst through the clouds flying low over the community of Wheatland. It seemed to fly north over 16th Street, then circled and flew over Banner Health exactly at 9:15 a.m. in a precise salute to those who have worked tirelessly against this pandemic.
Just as quickly as it was spotted, it banked to the right and headed north toward Lusk.
The Hercules aircraft that has been assigned to the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming National Guard and took off Friday morning from Cheyenne. The C-130 is modified with Electronic Propeller Control System and eight-bladed propeller system.
The flyover was an aerial salute to healthcare heroes all over the state of Wyoming. The Air National Guard presented a two-ship C-130 flyover across the skies of each hospital around the state, culminating in the Capitol City.
“We salute all those, both around the state of Wyoming and across the nation who have sacrificed so much to serve on the frontlines of this pandemic,” said Col. Justin Walrath, 153rd Airlift Wing commander and pilot, WYANG, “it’s truly an honor for the men and women of the Wyoming Air National Guard to provide a ‘thank you’ to the first responders, medical professionals, and essential personnel providing support at this time.”
The aerial demonstration is part of Operation American Resolve, a nationwide salute to all those supporting the COVID-19 response effort.