Update:At this writing, the Bethpage Air Show was scheduled for Memorial Day, Monday, May 31. All tickets for Saturday and Sunday were to be honored.
The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park was canceled Saturday due to weather, the state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation said in a statement. However, a livestream of Friday’s practice sessions – include footage from go-pros from the pilots and a Thunderbirds chase plane that shadowed the F-16s in their thrilling maneuvers – is airing on Saturday, 10-3 pm. It can be seen on WABC-TV, as well as on WABC’s Connected TV Apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku. The original plan was to livestream the rain date of Sunday, May 30, 2021. (It was not known whether Sunday’s show would also be canceled for weather).
The $10 event passes to the show can be returned in exchange for two free passes to visit any state park.
The show, which would have been the 17th at Jones Beach State Park, brought special excitement because of having been cancelled last year due to COVID-19, and the opportunity for crowds – albeit at 50 percent capacity – to gather again is a vital sign of the region’s return to normalcy. At this state park and many others around the state, free COVID-19 vaccines were being administered (with two-day passes to state parks as an additional incentive).
Here are photos from the practice performance including:
Show headliners the United States Air Force Thunderbirds returning to the Bethpage Air Show for their 8th appearance, performing some new maneuvers; the United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team performing in their 15th Bethpage Air Show; the United States Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, the first aircraft to be designed for close air support of ground forces (and built on Long Island); and the U.S. Coast Guard Search & Rescue Demonstration.
Civilian performers at this year’s Bethpage Air Show include the world-famous GEICO Skytypers and their flight squadron of six vintage WWII aircraft, the American Airpower Museum Warbirds, Long Island’s own David Windmiller, the Bayport Aerodrome Society, the SUNY Farmingdale State College Flying Rams who will fly seven of their 22 college-owned aircraft in a fly-by piloted by their top academic professional pilot performers, and Mike Goulian, North America’s most decorated aerobatic pilot.
An air show first, livestream viewers will be treated to a special inside look at performances. The GEICO Skytypers, the A-10 Thunderbolt, David Windmiller and Michael Goulian will have cameras on board their planes to provide viewers with an in-cockpit perspective, live, during the show. It’s these videos which will be streamed in place of Saturday’s performance.
At this writing, there was no decision on whether the Sunday performance would take place. Known to many as the Greatest Show on Long Island, the Bethpage Air Show was canceled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Show organizers instead held the first Bethpage Virtual Air Show which enabled fans to experience performances straight from the pilots’ cockpits.
The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach is one of the largest and most respected air shows in the country. During the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds’ most recent headlining appearance in 2019, over 366,000 attended the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach.
The US Air Force Thunderbirds headlined the 16th Annual Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, flying the thrilling red, white and blue F-16s. The event over Memorial Day Weekend draws almost 400,000 in the course of three days.
Most thrilling at this year’s Memorial Day weekend
Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, Long Island, were the number of women doing
the most daring feats: US Air Force Thunderbirds pilot Michelle Curran,
commanding the “Opposing Solo”; Jessy Panzer, the only civilian woman aerobatic pilot in the
country, mimicking the astonishing stunts of Sean D. Tucker, a “living legend”
of aerobatics; Golden Knights parachutist Maj. Marissa Chierichella and the Red
Bull Air Force sky diving team had Amy Chmelecki.
This was the 16th
annual Jones Beach air show – I’ve seen almost all of them – and though many of
the performances repeat year after year, or follow a two-year cycle, this show
was particularly exciting with the infusion of new energy.
The headliners, the US Air Force
Thunderbirds, are a team of
six F-16 Fighting Falcons that roar through the skies, to demonstrate the power
and dexterity of these fighting crafts. Most thrilling is when the two opposing
solos race at each other at combined speed of 1000 mph.
We were treated to the final appearance of Sean D. Tucker’s specially-engineered plane that enables him to do feats never before imagined, the Oracle Challenger 3, will be donated to the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, where it will be part of a new Thomas W. Haas We All Fly gallery, opening in 2021.
This year, for the first time, Tucker flew in tandem
with Jessy Panzer, the only female civilian air show pilot in the USA. Together,
Team Oracle performed the most
exquisite, thrilling pas de deux in flight, with incredible precision at 200
miles mph, at bone-crushing G-forces, with Panzer magnificently following the
smoke trails of Tucker. Her skill is all the more apparent since she is flying
a different plane from the Oracle Challenger 3 biplane. And the back-story –
that each were afraid of flying initially, he because his father was an
aviation lawyer who knew all too well the risks, and she because her father
died in an airplane crash.
GEICO Skytypers, a team of advanced training aircraft used in World War II, are
fascinating because they demonstrate actual fighting techniques – an implosion
run where they evade the enemy by actually flying into each other to create
confusion, missing each other by mere feet; opposing craft which come at each
other at incredible speed.
traditionally kicks off with a ceremonial parachute drop by a representative of
the US Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, delivering the
American flag to a tiny target on Jones Beach. The whole team then returns for
a demonstration performance. They barrel out of their plane from an altitude of
12,500 ft, at a speed of 120 mph before pulling the cord to release their
parachute; in one demonstration we see what happens when a chute fails at just
5,000 ft. (they have a spare chute). We learn that the parachutes they use, use
the same aeronautical techniques as the original Wright Brothers plane in 1903.
Red Bull Air
Force launch out of a plane from 13,000 feet, speeding like
a cannon ball at almost 200 mph, crossing in flight, before releasing the
parachute, and sailing down at 60 mph to the target. The helicopter is the only
aerobatic helicopter in the US.
The F-18 Super
Hornet, traveling at 700 mph, nearly breaking the sound
barrier, where the pilot experiences bone-crushing Gs. The fighter is flown by the United States Navy and Marines
flying for Embry Riddle, performs maneuvers in which he experiences as much as
9 positive Gs and 6 negative Gs.
John Klatt Airshows
and Jack Link’s Beef Jerky teamed up to create a one-of-a-kind plane, the Screamin’
Sasquatch, powered by dual powerplants: a Pratt & Whitney 985 Radial
Engine and a General Electric CJ610 (J85) Jet Engine with 3,000 lbs of thrust.
This system allows the plane to achieve feats other stunt planes are unable to
do. During his performance, Ret. USAF Lt Colonel John Klatt experiences forces
of plus and minus 4Gs, which means a 200 lb. man would weigh 800 lbs. He
travels at 250 mph. Considering the ridiculous aerobatics Klatt performs in the
plane, it is astonishing to learn that the plane is a Taperwing Waco made
famous by the barnstormers of the 1920s and 1930s, and is based on a 1929 Waco,
modified and “beefed up” big time.
Windmiller, Long Island’s
hometown hero (from Melville), thrills spectators in his Zivko Edge 540
aircraft, built especially for aerobatics, with seemingly impossible feats at
speeds of up to 220 mph that keep his peers and his fans in awe. Windmiller has
been flying since 14 year old, soloed at 16 year old and started aerobatic
flying before he got his license and has accumulated 18,000 flight hours,
including 8,000 doing aerobatics. He performs snap rolls, inverted flat spin
(where the plane falls from the sky), 4 knife edge tumblers, inside-outside
US Coast Guard demonstrated a rescue by helicopter into churning seas – on a typical
day, the Coast Guard, with fewer members than can fit in Yankee Stadium, save
15 lives, patrol some 96,000 miles of coastline through the US, as well as
South China Seas, Pacific, Persian Gulf and wherever the US has forces.The air
show also pays homage to aviation’s heritage.
Bayport Aerodrome Society, formed
in 1972 ands composed of aviation professionals, recreational pilots, and
people interested in preserving aviation history, flies aircraft from the 1920s.
As a “living museum” they have a variety of antique aircraft flying on the
field including Bi-Planes, Champs, and Cubs. One of their pilots, is 92-year
old pilot who served in World War II, who flew with his grandson.
World War II vintage aircraft from the American Air Power
Museum, at Republic Airport (flights available over Memorial
Day weekend) were flown, including the B-25 Mitchell Bomber used in the “Catch
22” series on Hulu.