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October 3, 2023

Flyover honors first responders, essential workers

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—A team of six pilots took the sky over Santa Cruz County Saturday in a first-ever local aerial tribute to those giving to their community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lightning Formation Airshows (LFA), with support from Watsonville Municipal Airport, painted the sky with smoke trails in a four-hour operation to recognize first responders such as medical staff, firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics. The honorees also included essential workers found in grocery stores, educational institutions, restaurants, utility services, farms and countless other locations.

The dramatic show featured the single-engine planes dressing the sky with giant heart shapes above the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, Scotts Valley, Dominican Hospital, Aptos, the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and Watsonville Community Hospital.

The planes also flew over multiple locations in neighboring Monterey County, including Mee Memorial Hospital, Natividad Medical Center and Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital.

LFA pilots painted the sky with a heart Saturday. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

“We also share our compassion with those in our community with loved ones who are sick or have been tragically lost to this disease,” said Mercedes Eulitt, LFA wingman and Watsonville resident.

LFA is a professional airshow team comprised of eight pilots and planes that typically fly in close formation. 

Rayvon Williams, Director of Watsonville Municipal Airport, said he was “pleased” to be working with the LFA.

“It’s just another example of the City’s commitment to our community and an opportunity for our aviation community to say ‘Thanks!’ to our local essential workers,” Williams said.

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.

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