From The Tribune staff reports
TRUSSVILLE — The 117th Air Refueling Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard flew over hospitals in Birmingham and Huntsville in a show of support for first responders battling the coronavirus pandemic. A KC-135R Stratotanker took to the skies on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.
The show of support is part of the nationwide Air Force Salutes Flyover under Operation American Resolve.
“The purpose of this flyover is to show appreciation to the thousands of American heroes who are at the frontline battling COVID-19 and providing the support that America needs,” 117th Air Refueling Wing said. “It is part of a normal training mission and will demonstrate the continued readiness of the 117 ARW during the pandemic. The flyover is also intended to lift morals in Huntsville and Birmingham due to the severe health and economic impacts from COVID-19.”
The aircraft flew over St. Vincent’s East, St. Vincent’s in Birmingham, UAB, Princeton Baptist Medical Center, Shelby Baptist Medical Center, Grandview Medical Center, Brookwood Baptist Medical Center and UAB Hospital Highlands.
The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker was developed from the same prototype as the Boeing 707 airliner. It was the Air Force’s first jet-powered refueling tanker and entered service in 1957. Although they are still used today, they have been partially replaced and are expected to be phased out by 2030.