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302nd Airlift Wing thanks Colorado healthcare workers with flyover

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 302nd Airlift Wing flew two C-130 Hercules aircraft over multiple hospitals in Colorado to thank healthcare workers, first responders and essential employees on the frontlines against COVID-19 May 6, 2020. The C-130's flew over hospitals in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Greeley and Ft. Collins. (U.S. Air Force video by Staff Sgt. Laura Turner)

Image shows two large aircraft flying over Colorado Springs hospital

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Two C-130 Hercules assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing fly over St. Francis Medical Center to honor all healthcare workers, first responders and essential workers on the frontlines battling the COVID-19 virus May 6, 2020, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The “Hercs over Colorado” flew over multiple hospitals in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Greeley and Fort Collins during a routine training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany Lundberg)

Image shows four people on ramp of large aircraft while in flight

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Members of the 302nd Airlift Wing sit on the ramp of a C-130 Hercules as it flies over Colorado Spings hospitals May 6, 2020. The wing flew over several Colorado hospitals during a routine training mission to thank local healthcare workers, first responders and essential employees battling on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Laura Turner)

Image shows two large aircraft over Colorado hospital

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Two C-130 aircraft from the 302nd Airlift Wing fly over the UCHealth Memorial Hospital North in Colorado Springs, Colorado May 6, 2020, saluting healthcare professionals for their continued work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fly over was part of a salute to 10 hospitals across three cities in Colorado before aircrew continued on to perform their scheduled training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Norton)

Image shows four people on ramp of large aircraft while in flight

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Members of the 302nd Airlift Wing wave to Colorado healthcare workers, first responders and essential employees battling COVID-19 during a flyover May 6, 2020. The 302 AW flew two C-130 Hercules aircraft over multiple Colorado hospitals during a routine training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Laura Turner)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Over the last several months, medical personnel, healthcare workers and essential personnel all over the world have been working against one common enemy; COVID-19. In Colorado, as of May 6 there have been 17,830 cases, 2,986 hospitalized and 921 deaths, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment website.

Aircrews with the 302nd Airlift Wing flew two C-130 Hercules to honor those personnel during a training flight around Colorado on May 6. They flew over several hospitals in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Greeley and Fort Collins.

Honoring the personnel has also hit home for some of the aircrew who have family on the frontlines battling COVID-19.

“It meant the world to us to get to participate in it and show the state of Colorado that we’re behind them 100% and right there on the front lines with them,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Brader, the 731st Airlift Squadron commander. “My entire family’s born and raised in Colorado. They’re first responders and police officers up in the Denver area and they were cheering us on as we went by today as well.”

Brader was one of the pilots and mission director for the flyover. His co-pilot, Maj. Cullen Vetter, 731 AS training and pilot, and navigator, Lt. Col. Kip Blackwell, 731 AS chief navigator, also have family on the COVID-19 frontlines. Vetter’s wife, Courtney, is a local doctor at St. Francis Medical Center where she and the medical staff were able to see and were excited about the flyover. Blackwell’s spouse, Col. Rebecca Blackwell, 559th Medical Group commander, is a practicing flight doctor and pediatrician at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

Blackwell hopes the flyover raised morale for medical and essential personnel and for those who are fighting the virus.

“I think this had a side benefit of helping raise the morale of the communities of Pueblo, Colorado Springs, West Denver, Boulder, Greeley, and Fort Collins,” said Blackwell. “I think even those that are not in the clinics dealing with this disease are dealing with it on a personal level, and the small action of the 731 AS today helped to remind them that they are not alone.”

Flying wings all over the U.S. are performing flyovers for their local communities and states. The Colorado Air National Guard’s 140th Wing also flew their F-16 Fight Falcons over Colorado on May 6.

“The 302 AW has many reservists living and working throughout the Colorado Front Range, to include our hospitals,” said Col. James DeVere, 302 AW commander. “We are proud to perform these flyovers to say thank you for your service and taking the risk to protect the American people.”