SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For pilots in the 144th Fighter Wing, the mission Wednesday was to soar above Central and Northern California as a way to thank the medical teams working hard throughout the pandemic.
"For me to do these flybys, it's a way to give back and show that, 'Hey, we are regular people and love the community just as much as anyone else, and we like to show our support,'" says Maj. Christopher LaCroix. "And one way we can show our support is these flybys"
For Dr. Shahzad Jahromi, the gesture was even more special since he's often in the back seat on these flights.
"I am so excited to see them fly by," he said. "Personally, I feel like they're doing it for me, but I know it's not true, at least that I know of. It is exciting. I think it's a powerful show of gratitude from the military and from the Air Force for all healthcare workers."
Nurses came out of Kaiser Hospital in northeast Fresno by the dozen to catch a glimpse of the jets as they passed.
"They are a serving unit and that's what they came out to do, is show us their support and serve us as we serve them," says Susan Alday, RN.
For Dr. Jahromi, the physician in chief, working in a hot zone has been rough.
The crisis is stressful and since patients can't have visitors during the pandemic, it's taken a toll on everyone.
"It's been two months, but it feels like forever," Dr. Jahromi said. "You know, since COVID-19 came around Fresno, we've been in the building trying to fight this disease that nobody knew much about."
At close to 350 MPH, fighter pilots paid tribute from Visalia to Fresno, Madera and Merced.
Although the pilots may only catch a glimpse of the hospital workers, Dr. Jahromi said the message of thanks was clear.
"You can't see a lot down there, but they can feel it," he said. "When you're sitting up in the jet and flying over, you sort of have the feeling even though you can't see individual people, you can feel it. You definitely can feel it."
Dr. Jahromi has been a service member in Fresno for the past 15 years. He spends one weekend a month as a flight surgeon, making sure the pilots are in good health during flights.
Physician feels personal connection to California Air National Guard fighter jets jets fly over Fresno
The pilots will pass cities such as Reedley, Selma, Madera, Sacramento, Merced and Clovis.
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