Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury

Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, led a Luke Air Force Base flyover that honored health care workers, first responders and other essential workers.

Three days before Gov. Doug Ducey announced restaurants can offer dine-in service soon, a flyover honored health care workers and first responders.

On May  1, jets came screaming out of Luke Air  Force Base, looping over Litchfield Park, Goodyear and Avondale before heading east. 

Though the revving of jets anticipated the economy starting up, the purpose of the 15-aircraft flyover was to honor Arizona front-line responders.

“This community flyover was an opportunity to extend our heartfelt gratitude and salute all of the health care workers, first responders, military members and essential personnel,” said Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander. 

The flyover came three days before Gov. Doug Ducey’s May 4 announcement that restaurants can reopen for dine-in service Monday, May 11. Ducey said barbers and salons can open Friday, May 8. 

Ducey said retail shops will be permitted in-person operations Friday, May 8—as long as they implement social distancing and sanitation measures.

Ducey’s April 29 executive order allowed some retail businesses to open for curbside delivery May 4.

“As we breathe life back into our businesses, we want to make sure we’re taking common sense precautions to keep employees and customers safe,” said Ducey.

 At the same time, Ducey extended the stay-home order for nonessential workers until May 15. (The March 30 order expired May 1.)

“Arizona’s focus has been protecting public health and slowing the spread of COVID-19—and this approach is working,” Ducey said. “Physical distancing is making a difference. We’re slowing the spread. The last thing we want to do now is undo these gains.”

He called the next phase a “calm, steady approach while taking new steps to breathe life into our small businesses.

“Arizona is eager to reenergize our economy, and we will continue to take a gradual, step-by-step approach that’s guided by data and public health.”

The flyover had energy, though it was hardly slow and steady.

The dazzling show of power flew over 20 hospitals, including Abrazo West Campus and Banner Estrella.

“From all the pilots and aircrew flying and ground personnel supporting this undertaking, we wish Arizona a speedy recovery from COVID-19,” Lt. Col. Jason Bartel said.

Ducey saluted the flyover—which in turn was all about saluting those saving lives and feeding sheltered residents during the pandemic.

“Our front-line medical workers are heroes,” Ducey said. “Today’s flyover was a perfect symbol of the strength, resolve and unity of our doctors, nurses and emergency responders have displayed in the fight against COVID-19.”

The flyover featured F-35 Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, with active duty, Air Force Reserve and ANG airmen tipping their wings to front-line workers.

 “This training event also showcased our continued ability to integrate with our total force partners from the 944th Fighter Wing and the 161st Air Refueling Wing,” said Canterbury.