During the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown, days seemingly have run together. But, Saturday, May 16, 2020 is a day many people living in the Sandhills will remember for a long time. On that warm, sunny and beautiful spring day, ten planes from the North Carolina-based Bandit Flight Team flew in formation as part of a Tribute Flyover throughout the Sandhills. The flight honored healthcare workers, emergency services personnel and others waging the fight against COVID-19. The Tribute Flyover passed over multiple facilities and First Health Regional Hospitals in Sanford, Pinehurst, Rockingham and Raeford.
The Bandit Flight Team blew smoke as they flew over the various locations as a symbol of thanks to those frontline workers. One of the more memorable images from the day was seeing the 10-plane formation fly over the iconic Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst Resort. At the end of the hour-long tribute flight, the Bandit Flight Team gave several dozens of people a show with a pair of low flybys at the Gilliam-McConnell Airport in Carthage where the pilots and crew landed, and later enjoyed lunch at the world-famous Pik n’ Pig BBQ joint. The show was sponsored by the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area CVB and TarHeel Communications, host of the annual Festival D’Avion at the Moore County Airport.