Four planes, including the A-10 Thunderbolt II (pictured) and KC-135 Stratotanker, will flyover Michigan Tuesday and Wednesday.

Four planes, including the A-10 Thunderbolt II (pictured) and KC-135 Stratotanker, will flyover Michigan Tuesday and Wednesday.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

Selfridge ready for special flyover

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published May 12, 2020

METRO DETROIT — The U.S. Navy Blue Angels won’t be the only military planes flying over Michigan this week.

A local flair will also be part of the effort to show support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 11, pilots and crew members of the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township gathered in preparation for a flyover event — Michigan Strong Aerial Flyovers Across Michigan. 

As part of the wing’s normal training missions, a series of flyovers are planned for Tuesday and Wednesday, May 12-13, in major Michigan cities to demonstrate the wing’s continued readiness during the national COVID-19 response, while saluting the Michigan heroes at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19.

A pair of KC-135 Stratotanker and four A-10 Thunderbolt II planes from Selfridge will be part of the flyovers, which are intended to lift morale in cities across the state due to the severe health and economic impacts that have resulted from COVID-19.

“It’s about the men and women who are out there on the frontlines,” 127th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Rolf Mammen said. “This is our opportunity to thank them for everything they are doing.”  

On Tuesday, the KC-135 flyover will pass over Marquette, Lansing and Flint. Also on Tuesday, A-10’s from Selfridge are set to fly over Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Battle Creek. On Wednesday, both aircraft will do a flyover of Novi and Detroit.

Also on Tuesday, the Blue Angels will traverse over Detroit, Chicago, and Indianapolis. It’s anticipated that the Blue Angels will be over Macomb County at approximately 11:47 a.m.

Mammen said doing a flyover is a real treat. 

“We don’t do this very often, and this is the people’s airplanes,” he said. “This belongs to the citizens of the United States. This is an opportunity for us to get out there and they get to see our wear.”  

A-10s can travel anywhere from 200-400 mph, depending on the mission. A flight from Selfridge to Marquette, like the crew will do Tuesday, takes about one hour. 

Felicity Van Meter, a captain with the 107th Fighter Squadron, a unit of the 127th Wing, said it’s very exciting to be part of the flyover. 

“It’s a nice change of pace for our week,” she said. “The KC-135s are used as our air refueling wing, serving as tanker support. In a combat role, it’s used for air-to-ground support of troops on the ground.”

A-10 pilot Maj. David Dennis said three airplanes will depart from Selfridge, refueling with the KC-135.

“It’s to show support for the hometown heroes here in Michigan and let everyone know we’re all in this together and are fighting the fight together,” he said. “Everyone has been affected by this.”   

Dennis has been an A-10 pilot for about 15 years. He said the flyover should take between two and two and a half hours.

Maj. Bryan Genereaux, who grew up in Fraser, will be flying the KC-135 Tuesday. 

“The primary job is air refueling, so tomorrow, we’ll be able to conduct our normal mission and then on top of that, we’ll be able to flyover to show our thanks,” he said. “I have family and friends who work in hospitals, so to be able to do that for them is great.” 

For more information and a schedule of the Michigan Strong flyovers, follow the 127th Wing and Michigan National Guard on Facebook.