Apr 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds to tour for national unity

Blue Angels
Anda Chu/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds are planning a tour to promote national unity amid the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump said at Wednesday's White House press briefing.

The big picture: Some demonstration squadrons will fly in unison, while others will fly individually, in a mission titled "Operation America Strong," as the Washington Post first reported based on defense officials and a memo. The flights will not feature stunts, and will avoid passing regions where people might congregate to promote social distancing.

  • Congressional staffers have reportedly been briefed on the plan and Trump spoke in support of the idea at a press conference Wednesday.
  • Trump says the event will take place July 4.

What Trump's saying:

"When we want to win, we always win, sometimes we don't want to win and so we go standstill. That's not the way this country works. Operation America Strong was the idea of our great military men and women. The Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels who wanted to show support to the American medical workers who just like military members in a time of war are fiercely running toward the fight — I want to see those shows ... On July 4th, we will be doing what we had at the [National Mall], it was a tremendous success. 
"Our great military is operating at 100% during this crisis. Thousands of troops are deployed alongside of civilians and the hot spots as you know you see them all over."

Between the lines: The Trump administration has repeatedly used the military to display power and patriotism — but the move has previously previously drawn backlash. Trump's "Salute to America" last July 4 received criticism for transporting tanks onto the National Mall.

  • The squadrons' flights each coast a minimum of $60,000 per hour, per the Post.
Go deeper