Pilots in private planes flew in formation over hospitals in La Jolla and across the San Diego area on April 24 to salute health care professionals working the front lines of the battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The contingent of aviators executed fly-overs in various groupings above 12 hospitals between 10 and 11 a.m., towing banners, writing sky messages with smoke and performing stunts.
Members of the fleet — including Bonanzas, Cirruses, Cessnas, Mooneys, Great Lakes biplanes, aerobatic designs, 1940s-era Stearman trainers and other military relics — passed over San Diego VA Medical Center at 3350 La Jolla Village Drive and Scripps Green Hospital at 10666 N. Torrey Pines Road, as well as Palomar Medical Center, Pomerado Hospital, Psychiatric Hospital of San Diego County, Rady Children’s Hospital, Scripps Chula Vista, Scripps Encinitas, Sharp Chula Vista, Sharp Coronado, Sharp Memorial and Sharp Grossmont.
Medical workers and patients could see the aerial tributes from the care centers.
“If we can get them a little excited and give them a boost of positive energy, that’s always good,” said Phil Kendro, a 47-year-old Rancho Bernardo resident who also is a retired Marine and pilot with United Airlines. His wife, Jill, is a radiology nurse at Sharp Memorial Hospital.
Kendro said the event was the brainchild of Scripps Green nurse Doreen Freedman, a private pilot who was inspired by a recent similar aerial display for health care workers and hospital patients grappling with COVID-19 in the Kansas City area.
Freedman suggested to her local flying friends that they put together the same sort of airborne tribute, and planning for the project took off, according to Kendro.
Most of the participants took off from Gillespie Field in El Cajon and Montgomery Field in Serra Mesa, Kendro said. One was flying in from French Valley and another from Borrego Springs.
— La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.