Pilots to honor health care workers with hospital fly-overs

Scripps Encinitas will be among the hospitals that aircraft will fly over April 24 to honor health care workers.

Pilots in more than two dozen planes will fly in formation over hospitals across the San Diego area on Friday, April 24, to salute health care professionals working the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, planners of the event announced April 23.

The contingent of aviators, including members of a well-known local flight-performance team, will execute fly-overs in various groupings above 12 hospitals in the county in the late morning, towing banners, writing sky messages with smoke and performing stunts.

Medical workers and patients will be able to see the aerial tributes from the grounds and windows of the care centers, said Phil Kendro, a retired U.S. Marine and pilot with United Airlines whose wife, Jill, is a radiology nurse at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

``If we can get them a little excited and give them a boost of positive energy, that’s always good,’’ the 47-year-old Rancho Bernardo resident told City News Service.

Between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., the fleet of roughly 30 aircraft -- including Bonanzas, Cirruses, Cessnas, Mooneys, Great Lakes biplanes, aerobatic designs, 1940s-era Stearman trainers and other military relics -- will pass over Palomar Medical Center, Pomerado Hospital, Psychiatric Hospital of San Diego County, Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego VA Medical Center, Scripps Chula Vista, Scripps Encinitas, Scripps Green, Sharp Chula Vista, Sharp Coronado, Sharp Memorial and Sharp Grossmont.

Kendro said the event was the brainchild of private pilot and Scripps Green nurse Doreen Freedman, who was inspired by a similar recent aerial display for health care workers and hospital patients grappling with COVID-19 in the Kansas City area.

Last week, Freedman suggested to her local flying friends that they put together the same sort of airborne tribute, and planning for the project quickly took off, according to Kendro.

``Everybody’s very excited about this,’’ he said.

Most of the participants, whose numbers include noted air-race competitor Anthony Oshinuga, will take off from Gillespie Field in El Cajon and Montgomery Field in Serra Mesa, Kendro said. One will fly in from French Valley, and another from Borrego Springs.

Though not all of the pilots will pass over each of the selected health care facilities, one eight- to 10-member squadron will -- members of San Diego Salute, who fly high-performance propeller-driven former military aircraft in formation for patriotic holiday celebrations, memorials, fundraisers and sporting events.

Other involved local aviation groups and companies include Allen Airways Flying Museum, Commemorative Air Force Air Group One, Money Aerial Media, Plus One Flyers, San Diego Aerial Advertising, the San Diego Antique Aircraft Association and San Diego Sky Tours.