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Let's take a break from pandemic and economic disaster to consider lighter fare that may lift your spirits and your eyes to the skies above. Set your cell phone reminder: The Air Force's fabled Thunderbirds are scheduled to fly over Austin beginning at 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday. The flyover will last 25 minutes.


Step outside with the house-bound kids. Don't congregate at a park or shopping mall. The T-birds, who are flying across many American cities in a salute to healthcare workers, first responders and other frontline workers in the pandemic, advise against any gatherings. The formation of six F-16C/D Fighting Falcons will be easy to see and hear.

Austin residents "will be able to see the flyover from the safety of their home-quarantine and should maintain all social distancing guidelines during this event," said the Air Force on its website. "They should also refrain from traveling to landmarks, hospitals and gathering in large groups to view the flyover."

A detailed flight route will be released on Tuesday. But we do know the demonstration group, based at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, will first fly over San Antonio beginning at 1:20 p.m.

The Air Force demonstration group is a 130-person squadron led by Lt. Col. John Caldwell, who flies in the no. 1 position. On his left wing is a Texan: Maj. Trevor Aldridge, who hails from Wichita Falls and graduated in 2009 from Texas A&M with a major in civil engineering. Another Texan, Lt. Col. (Dr.) Noel Colls, a native of El Paso who earned his medical degree at Texas Tech, is the flight surgeon.

The F-16C/D is a fighter jet that is built at cost of about $20 million. It is capable of flying at Mach 2 (1,500 mph) and at an altitude above 50,000 feet. The Falcon has a long history of flying sorties in the Persian Gulf War and in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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