Make sure to look up to the skies Friday afternoon if you’re in or near Silverdale and Bremerton.
The Northwest BeechBoys Formation Demonstration Team will be conducting a tribute flight in honor of local medical professionals fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.
The group, which flies out of Bremerton National Airport and has performed at various festivals around the northwest, plans to fly over four hospitals on the Kitsap Peninsula as well as the shipyard in Bremerton, the latter pending approval, as a gesture of gratitude toward all of the personnel dealing with the pandemic.
“We thought it would be cool to do a tribute flight over the various hospitals around here,” said Jim Posner, the leader of the Northwest BeechBoys, “in tribute to the medical community who are dealing with this virus.”
Over the course of an hour on Friday mid-afternoon, the BeechBoys will take off from Bremerton and first fly over St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor. From there, they will head north and make one pass over the Naval shipyard in Bremerton and then head toward Harrison Medical Center for two passes. After that, it’s on to Harrison Silverdale for two passes before flying over the Naval hospital in Bremerton and back toward the airport.
The whole flight should take about an hour, Posner said, and the planes will fly at a low altitude, approximately 1,500 feet, while making what’s known as a “grand turn” at each of the destinations.
Posner said he has been in touch with administrators at some of the hospitals and noted that they are “thrilled” to have this tribute flight performed for them.
The Northwest BeechBoys are based at the Bremerton National Airport and are so named for the similar Beechcraft planes that each pilot flies. The team has years of experience flying together and have usually flown for festivals and have also done missing man formations for memorial services. They use military procedures for their formation discipline to make it as safe as possible while they fly about three feet apart from one another.
“It’s challenging for our pilots, but we’ve never had any safety issues,” Posner said.
Observers can expect to see seven planes in a formation that resembles an arrow. During a second pass, the planes will appear in more of a diamond formation. An eighth plane — called a “chase plane” — will trail behind, equipped with a camera and a GoPro to obtain photographs and video footage of the event.