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SAN DIEGO — Fifteen aviators from around San Diego joined together Friday in the skies above to salute our medical professionals.

The local pilots called it a simple way to give back, joining forces across the county by flying over 11 hospitals from as far north as Palomar and as far south as Chula Vista to honor those on the front lines fighting COVID-19.

“This is something that all of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to, so it’s just a natural thing for us to able to honor in a public way, in a way that the public can see us, going out and showing respect for these guys that put their lives on the line every day for us,” said Ryan Salahi, a pilot and the chief of medical staff of the San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital.

Salahi talked to FOX 5 about how the pandemic has affected his medical staff.

“it’s been a pretty stressful six weeks or so with a lot of changes at the hospital, people’s fears about their safety for their families and their loved ones, as well as our patients and coworkers, so this is a welcome break, distraction and a thank you to all of them,” Salahi said.

Jill Kendro, a Navy veteran and nurse at Sharp Memorial Hospital, expresses gratitude for the recognition her staff is getting for their hard work during these trying times.

“It’s humbling and we’re grateful,” Kendro said. “I think that it’s really important too that everybody recognizes all of the hospital staff members, from housekeeping to nutrition, to lab, radiology — there’s just so many community members that work in healthcare so I think it’s great and I think it’s a great opportunity for the people who are not working inside the hospital walls that are able to experience the honor, too.”