HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- If you want to get your Independence Day off to a roaring start in Utah, you may just have to look up.
A team of F-35s from Hill Air Force Base will fly over 13 cities in Utah.
“It’s a phenomenal engine. It really takes off down low,” said Lt. Col. Dave DeAngelis, a pilot with the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base. “We’ll be flying over at 1,000 feet, 300 knots: everything from West Point down to Sandy. Even the smaller towns like Liberty, we’ll be doing a flyover there as well.”
The flyover is a 30-year tradition, but, this year, the Air Force will be showing off its newest fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II. The F-16’s that have traditionally done the flyover are being phased out.
“A lot of times [the towns are] kicking off their parade once the F-35’s fly by, so we have various time over targets that we’re looking to hit every couple minutes to make sure we’re able to hit every town,” said Lt. Col. DeAngelis.
The coordination effort is massive, spanning well beyond the pilots. Fifty extra people, from maintenance crews to air traffic control, come to help with the flyovers.
“It’s been great to just kind of see the local community from the air, it’s beautiful flying along the Wasatch Front as well," Lt. Col. DeAngelis said. "And then we’re going to be going down State Street, so it’s going to be great just flying down downtown Salt Lake, so we’re really looking forward to that."
According to a press release from Hill Air Force Base, the cities getting flyovers include: Centerville, North Ogden, Riverdale, Vernal, Murray, Morgan, Clearfield, Huntsville, West Point, Liberty and Park City.