MacDill-based aerial tanker banks low over Sarasota to honor medical professionals and first-responders.
Staffers in street clothes and scrubs lined the top floor of Sarasota Memorial Hospital's south parking garage to watch an Air Force jet honor them and first responders with a morning flyover on Friday.
The four-engined KC-135 aerial tanker took off from MacDill Air Force Base and made its way south to Sarasota as part of a 12-hospital flyover tour of the Tampa Bay area. Dozens of medical staff and others scanned the sky, looking for the jet as the 10:39 a.m. arrival time approached.
The jet flew low from the north and made a sweeping curve around the hospital and headed back toward hospitals in St. Petersburg, Largo and Tampa.
David Patterson, associate chief nursing officer at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, said as veteran of the U.S. Marines, he doubly appreciated the gesture from the Air Force. Around the country, military aircraft including the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels, have been paying tribute to medical professionals, police and fire-rescue personnel in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
"It feels wonderful to have any kind of recognition, especially from the military, for the work that we're doing at the hospital on a daily basis,'' he said. "I think it really shows the work that our nurses and our staff and everybody in health care is doing on a daily basis with this pandemic that is upon us.''