MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You might have seen and heard them in the skies this morning. A C-130 transport plane and two F-16 fighter jets flew over several hospitals in the Twin Cities.

The initiative was intended to honor the men and women working on the front lines fighting COVID-19.

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People arrived early. Social distancing, they separated by family, some sitting in the back of cars others on top, everyone positioning themselves for a good view of a flyover in honor of essential workers.

Bill Saxe joined others who also wanted to be a part of the moment, military heroes paying tribute to medical heroes during a pandemic.

“My wife actually works here as a respiratory therapist she is one of the reasons I’m here,” Bill Saxe said. “The military heroes are looking at our health care professionals in the same respect.”

The flyovers are part of the Air Force’s initiative to recognize essential workers who are keeping communities going during these uncertain times.

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Nurse Laurel Best is one of many essential workers who watched two F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft fly over Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.

“It’s no different than military going into the home front when its a time of war, or anything like that. This is just our wartime effort to fight COVID,” Best said.

In St. Paul, skywatchers got a long look at a C-130 from the 133rd Air Wing out of Ft. Snelling. It was accompanied by two F-16’s. While groups of people watched, the workers on the front line are hoping everyone will do their part to stay healthy and stay safe.

“I just encourage everybody to wear your mask, social distance, and to help make our jobs and our lives easier,” Best said.

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The flyovers were also part of the Minnesota National Guard’s scheduled training missions. The pilots must fly a certain number of hours to maintain proficiency.

Reg Chapman