Coronavirus Grounds Thunderbirds Ahead of Wyoming Show

Thunderbirds, practice at Joint Base Langley-Eustis
The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, practice at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, July 2, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Dowe)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Coronavirus among U.S. Air Force personnel has grounded the Thunderbirds.

The fighter jet demonstration team was scheduled to perform in Cheyenne next Wednesday but canceled because “a few of our team members” tested positive for the virus, Nellis Air Force Base said in a statement.

The base near Las Vegas is headquarters for the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy's Blue Angels have overflown several U.S. cities in recent months in a show of national unity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal regulations prohibit the Air Force from saying how many personnel have the virus and their conditions, but none of them is a pilot, Thunderbirds spokeswoman Capt. Remoshay Nelson said Thursday.

Those testing positive will self-isolate for 14 days, and the team plans to resume flying next week. Contact tracing by public health officials was underway to determine if anyone else had the virus, Nelson said.

“Our primary focus is ensuring the health and welfare of our personnel so we can safeguard our mission readiness and capabilities,” Nelson said by email.

Most of the Thunderbirds' scheduled shows this year are canceled amid public health orders banning large crowds. The Cheyenne event was originally scheduled as part of the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo festival held each year over the last two weeks of July.

Frontier Days is canceled for the first time in the event's 124-year history because of the coronavirus. Several other military aircraft remain scheduled to participate in an air show in Cheyenne on Wednesday.

The Thunderbrids' next scheduled event is an Ocean City, Maryland, air show Aug. 15-16.

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