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F-16s fly over Cincinnati to salute COVID-19 fighters but miss one target

West Side hospital bypassed unintentionally
Posted at 3:33 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 14:04:09-04

CINCINNATI — Pam Smith, a supervisor at Bethesda North Hospital, is used to taking care of patients.

But working in the COVID-19 intensive care unit was different, she said, because she feared the unknown brought on by the new coronavirus.

“It’s easier every day, and my team is just amazing and a bunch of champions really,” Smith said.

Smith was among the healthcare workers who watched two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing fly over the city Thursday morning in a salute to those on the front lines fighting COVID-19.

The fighters made several passes over Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. with the intention of flying over 15 major hospitals, said Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker, PIO for the 180th.

However, the pilots accidentally missed one. People waiting for the flyby over Cincinnati Childrens' on the west side were bypassed unintentionally, Holliker said.

That came as a surprise to the pilots, she said.

"One of the pilots was from the Cincinnati area. After the flight, they said the crews hit every site they were supposed to," Holliker said.

Holliker said it wasn't the pilots' fault and cited a problem with "mission planning."

"The target did not get loaded into the hard drives. It's super unfortunate," Holliker said. "It's just an oversight. We feel pretty bad about it."

The 180th had published this flight plan that included the Green Township hospital.

Operation American Resolve was scheduled to bring Ohio Air National Guard F-16s over Tri-State area hospitals on Thursday, May 7.

Smith said the tribute meant a lot to her and her team.

“And the whole community here, everybody is so appreciative of the support,” Smith said. “And it’s unexpected because we’re used to taking care of people. This is just a different circumstance, so everybody’s very touched by it.”

MORE VIDEO: Watch user video from around the region.

The 180th Fighter Wing scheduled several flybys across Ohio this week and extended their salute to Ohio healthcare workers, first responders, military members and other essential personnel.

The 180th, based in Swanton near Toledo, also hoped to raise the spirits and morale of fellow Ohioans in the process, according to a release.

All flights were conducted in conjunction with regularly scheduled training missions and were subject to change based on mission needs and/or inclement weather.

Residents were encouraged to observe the flybys from home and comply with social distancing.

FACT CHECK: Military flybys don't cost taxpayers extra.