Local News

Special partnership spurs a first of its kind aerial salute for health-care workers at seven Triangle area hospitals

Posted May 13, 2020 10:45 a.m. EDT
Updated May 14, 2020 8:31 a.m. EDT

Starting at 7 on Thursday evening, many people will experience a first-of-its-kind salute to health care workers – a Frontline Flyover above WRAL-TV studios in Raleigh and then to all Triangle area hospitals.

A special group of precision pilots deliver the thrilling aerial display. For those who have been to a few sporting events in North Carolina, be it a NASCAR race or a college football game, the Bandit Flight Team may be familiar.

For about 10 years, the Bandit Flight Team, the most active civilian formation team in the U.S., has been devoted to saluting the men and women who risk their lives serving our country. "Our motto is Flying for the Flag," said lead pilot Jim Kilpatrick.

He says health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic have served with the same spirit of heroism. "We see what these people are doing. We see the sacrifice. So we would like to say ‘thank you’ to them," Kilpatrick said.

In a partnership with WRAL-TV and the North Carolina Healthcare Association, the aerobatic team formed a flight plan taking them over all seven Triangle area hospitals.

They will soar at about 1,000 feet over the ground as they pass over WRAL-TV studios at 7:02 p.m. and then continue on to:

WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh at 7:04 p.m.

Duke Raleigh Hospital at 7:06 p.m.

UNC Rex Hospital at 7:09 p.m.

WakeMed Hospital in Cary at 7:12 p.m.

Duke University Hospital at 7:22 p.m.

UNC Medical Center at 7:27 p.m.

Duke Regional Hospital at 7:32 p.m.

At each precision-timed location along the way, the team will release a stream of smoke. "We’ve got about four minutes of smoke so we’re going to do it in about 35 seconds for each event, and I think we’ll be OK," said Kilpatrick.

The smoke, he says, is their symbol of gratitude from all those who depend on the health care workers’ presence and expertise.

"We don’t think we’re saying thank you from the Bandits. We think we’re saying thank you from the community," said Kilpatrick.

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