On Tuesday afternoon, a pair of F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing flew over O’Bleness Hospital in a salute to workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their flight path led to an impromptu mini-fest along the bike path in Athens.
The fighter jets began their flight at 5:15 p.m. when they flew over Adena Regional Hospital, they then flew over Adena Pike, Southern Ohio Medical center, King’s Daughters, Cabell Huntington and Pleasant Valley before buzzing by Athens. The flight crew continued on to their final flyover destination at Genesis Hospital in Zanesville.
Despite a suggestion from the 180th Fighter Wing that people observe the flyover from their own homes, many in Athens chose to watch the flyover from bike path near O’Bleness. The socially distanced observers spoke with each other in distanced groups while waiting for jets to arrive.
Athens may be mourning the loss of its Fest Season, but the flyover provided a mini-fest of its own kind. Athenians showed up with their children, with their dogs and some observers even wore novelty hats to make the occasion a little more festive. The jets appeared in all their glory to the waiting crowd at 5:39 p.m. and then six seconds later the party was over.
The 180th Fighter Wing is based out of Swanton, OH. They have been flying over the state as part of Operation American Resolve, a salute and thank you to healthcare workers, first responders, military members and other essential workers.