HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — For many communities across Northern Utah, Independence Day looked very different this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But one familiar tradition lived on as Air Force Reserve pilots from the 419th Fighter Wing performed flyovers.
Utahns caught a glimpse of four F-35A Lightning II jets as they made their way to events in Vernal and Park City. The aircraft flew across the Wasatch Front, to include the Salt Lake City area, beginning around 9:30 a.m. and landing just after 11 a.m.
The 419th FW’s July Fourth flyover tradition began more than 30 years ago and the wing typically supports about 20 community celebrations, but most were canceled this year due to COVID-19.
Flying the jets were Maj. Jeff Harding, Maj. Justin Cleveland, Maj. James Russell, and Maj. Dan Toftness, who have a combined 7,700 flying hours throughout their military careers.
Also working that day to make the flyovers happen were more than 40 maintainers and support personnel from the 419th FW and active duty 388th FW.
The 419th FW is the first Air Force Reserve unit to fly and deploy with the operational F-35A. The 419th and 388th at Hill AFB fly and maintain a fleet of 78 jets in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both the active duty and Reserve components.