By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The US Navy Blue Angels were the headliners at the 2022 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend, performing their heart-stopping maneuvers in their F/A-18 Super Hornets.
The Blue Angels were formed in 1946 by Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, who had a vision to create a flight exhibition team to raise the public’s interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale (and likely Congressional funding). In the 1940’s, the demonstration team thrilled audiences with precision combat maneuvers in the F6 Hellcat, the F8 Bearcat and the F9 Panther. During the 1950’s, they flew their aerobatic maneuvers in the F9 Cougar and F-11 Tiger and introduced the first six-plane delta formation, still flown to this day. By the end of the 1960’s, the team was flying the F-4 Phantom, the only two seat aircraft flown by the delta formation. In 1974, the Blue Angels transitioned to the A-4 Skyhawk, a smaller and lighter aircraft with a tighter turning radius allowing for a more dynamic flight demonstration. In 1986, the Blue Angels celebrated its 40th Anniversary by unveiling the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet. In 2021, the team began flying its current aircraft, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and celebrated its 75th anniversary.
A total of 17 officers voluntarily serve with the Blue Angels at one time, according to the Blue Angels’ website www.blueangels.navy.mil/. Each year the team typically selects three tactical (fighter or fighter/attack) jet pilots, two support officers and one Marine Corps C-130 pilot to relieve departing members. They typically serve two years with the team and then return to the fleet after their tours of duty.
Who gets selected? “The Chief of Naval Air Training selects the “Boss,” the Blue Angels Commanding Officer. Boss must have at least 3,000 tactical jet flight-hours and have commanded a tactical jet squadron. The Commanding Officer flies the Number 1 jet. The Chief of Naval Air Training also selects the “XO,” the Blue Angels Executive Officer. XO is a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) or Naval Aviator with at least 1,750 flight-hours.
“Career-oriented Navy and Marine Corps jet pilots with an aircraft carrier qualification and a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet flight-hours are eligible for positions flying jets Number 2 through 7. The Events Coordinator, Number 8, is a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) or Naval Aviator who has finished their first tour. The Marine Corps pilots flying the C-130J Hercules aircraft, affectionately known as “Fat Albert,” must be aircraft commander qualified with at least 1,200 flight hours.
“The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the teamwork and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps through flight demonstrations and community outreach while inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country.”
Just about every two years, the Blue Angels come to the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach to thrill audiences. This year, they performed in front of a capacity crowd of 181,000. Here are photo highlights.
The Blue Angels typically alternate with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds who are scheduled to headline 2023 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach next Memorial Day weekend.
Performers 2018: United States Navy Blue Angels – Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds – U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor (Lockheed Martin) – United States Army Golden Knights – Sean D. Tucker – Team Oracle – John Klatt Airshows – “Screamin Sasquatch” – Matt Chapman – Embry Riddle – GEICO Skytypers – American Air Power Museum Warbirds – SUNY Farmingdale Aviation – 106th Rescue Wing Static Displays:NY Guard Military Vehicles Announcer: Rob Reider Airboss: Wayne Boggs
Flying stunts with unbelievable negative and positive G forces, tactical maneuvers at impossible speeds with incredible precision, zooming to stratospheric heights, nearly 400,000 who cram into Jones Beach State Park over two days of the 15th Annual Memorial Day Weekend Bethpage Air Show are thrilled beyond measure at the heart-stopping skill and daring on display directly in view, with nothing but the horizon beyond.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, last at Jones Beach in 2016, are returning to the Bethpage Air Show for their eighth performance during their 72nd anniversary season and will provide the climatic final performance of the show at approximately 2 p.m. The Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds will be making their fourth performance at the Bethpage Air Show, where they will thrill fans with more than 50 different formations and maneuvers. (See photo highlights)
The F-22 Raptor, the United States Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft, which performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, will also make an appearance at the 15th anniversary show. The F-22 was designed to project air dominance, rapidly and at great distances, and defeat threats attempting to deny access to our nation’s Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. The F-22 will perform for crowds with its own remarkable demonstration, as well as alongside the United States Air Force Heritage Flight Team for a special aerial performance.
Other thrilling performers at this year’s show include the United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, performing in their 13th Bethpage Air Show; legendary air show pilot Sean Tucker performing in his custom-built Oracle Challenger II biplane; extraordinary aerobatic pilot Matt Chapman; the John Klatt Airshows — Jack Links’ Screamin’ Sasquatch Jet Waco Aerobatic Team; 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 Yankee Lady B17, our hometown, 106th Air Rescue Wing will show their support by performing a HC-130 and HH-60 fly-by demonstration; and new for their third air show performance, 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.
“This year we have a remarkable lineup of world-class performers, and are very pleased to welcome back the United States Navy Blue Angels to Long Island. We are also especially excited to be included in the Grunt Style Air Show Majors Tour, which unites the most prestigious air shows in the country,” said George Gorman, deputy regional director, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “The tour was developed to help increase awareness for the air show industry, so we look forward to welcoming many new guests to Jones Beach for our amazing show.”
“The Bethpage Air Show is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, due in large part to the endless enthusiasm and passion of our audience,” said Linda Armyn, senior vice president of corporate affairs, Bethpage. “We are all privileged to be able to continue to honor our nation’s military by bringing many of the world’s best military and civilian performers together for a show of this magnitude. The Bethpage Air Show has become a celebrated Long Island tradition, and we looking forward to another wonderful show.”
Two years ago, when the Blue Angels last headlined the show, the Bethpage Air Show had record-breaking attendance with 453,000 spectators. Last year, over 347,000 fans attended the Bethpage Air Show when the United States Air Force Thunderbirds headlined the show.
Here are more photo highlights:
In addition to Bethpage Federal Credit Union and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach is sponsored by Newsday, WABC-TV Channel 7, PSEG Long Island, Natural Heritage Trust, the U.S. Army, Loacker, New York Islanders and Connoisseur Media Long Island. The show can be heard in its entirety on WHLI 1100 and 1370 AM. Bethpage Air Show announcers lead air show activities from the Jones Beach State Park Central Mall Boardwalk area where food, beverages and ground activities are available.
The Bethpage Air Show is free to the public, but the standard $10 vehicle use fee is collected each day upon entry to the State Park. For the 2018 NYS Empire Passport holders, there is no vehicle use fee charge.
For $80, the Empire Passport card provides unlimited vehicle access to most facilities operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Empire Passports are available for purchase at any Long Island State Park and can be utilized immediately to enjoy the forests, the seashores and the lakefronts of New York State’s parks through all of New York’s beautiful seasons.
For more information about this year’s show, visit http://www.bethpageairshow.com or contact the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Regional Office, Recreation Department at 631-321-3510.
The world-renowned United States Navy Blue Angels and the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds will headline the 15th Annual Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, taking place Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The heart-stopping event is presented by Bethpage Federal Credit Union and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and draws some 400,000 people.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, last at Jones Beach in 2016, returned to the Bethpage Air Show for their eighth performance during their 72nd anniversary season and provide the climatic final performance of the show.
The US Navy Blue Angels flying F18 Hornets, were formed in 1946 as a flight demonstration team to keep the public interested in naval aviation. The Hornet can fly at speeds of more than Mach 1.7 – that is more than 1,294 mph – but during this performance, they kept it to just half of that, just below the point they would break the sound barrier. Still, there are times when they all approached from different directions at a combined speed of 1,000 mph; and when you see opposing fighter planes come at each other at 400 mph.
The US Air Force Thunderbirds headlined the 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, May 27 and 28, honors those who have died in service to the nation and veterans.
New this year was the Warrior Flight Team, a 501(c)(3) charity comprised of a team of all volunteers, which works to bring career opportunities to veterans. They brought two Soviet-era jets, built in Czechoslovakia (when they were put on the market, collectors could buy them for something like $75,000): Black Vandy 1 and Roman 86, raced around the sky at 560 mph showing precision flying and tactical maneuvers.
A personal favorite is the GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team, a flight squadron of six vintage WWII era U.S. Navy SNJ-2 trainers . The team performs a thrilling, low-altitude, precision-formation flying demonstration filling the sky and coming from all directions (even right at each other) to provide spectators a unique viewing experience while showcasing the tactics and maneuvers utilized during training during WWII.
The airshow 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.
The line-up also includes many returning favorites, as well as some new entries:
106th Air National Guard Rescue Wing deploys worldwide to provide combat search and rescue coverage for U.S. and allied forces – indeed, only last month they rescued the cargo ship Tamar. They are a World-Class Team of diverse, adaptable personnel recovery focused war fighters with a mission to provide worldwide Personnel Recovery, Combat Search and Rescue Capability, Expeditionary Combat Support, and Civil Search and Rescue Support to Federal and State authorities; since 9/11, they have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and East Africa. The 106th Air National Guard Rescue Wing provides Personnel Recovery to the state of New York. They demonstrate how they parachute into all sorts of conditions – today into the water, and how they are recovered into helicopters that follow along the C-130 (which can refuel planes in flight; the wingspan of the C-130 is so enormous – it is actually the distance the Wright Brothers flew on their first famous flight). Just how dangerous this is was demonstrated the next day when a US Navy Seal tragically lost his life in a parachute demonstration on the Hudson River for Fleet Week NYC.
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.
A perennial favorite at Jones Beach is Sean D. Tucker, who performs impossible feats in a specially built, one-of-a-kind, most high-performance aerobatic aircraft in the world, the Oracle Bi-Plane. It is a fire-breathing monster with over 400 horsepower, weighs just over 1200 pounds,has a revolutionary set of wings that use 8 ailerons instead of 4, and responds to the slightest pressure on the control stick even at 300 mph. Sean flies the aircraft backwards, straight-down, tail-first at more than 100 mph. At points, he experiences 6 negative Gs. There he is, doing the inside outside loop; two consecutive Hammerhead stalls; the spiraling tower. More than half of Sean’s maneuvers are original and have never been duplicated by another aerobatic pilot. Amazingly, Sean started flying because he was afraid to fly, the long-time show announcer Rob Ryder notes.
David 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 octogan loop.
Matt Chapman, flying for Embry Riddle, performs maneuvers in which he experiences as much as 9 positive Gs and 6 negative Gs. His Eagle 180 plane has parts from 3 countries. He’s also an American Airlines captain.
This year’s air show marked the return of the American Airpower Museum Warbirds, which present historic aircraft in a moving display.
SUNY Farmingdale Aerospace’s Flying Rams flew seven of their 22 college-owned aircraft in a fly-by piloted by their top academic Professional Pilot performers. The State University of New York (SUNY) Flight Center is a crown jewel of the SUNY system.
The Bayport Aerodrome Society, formed in 1972 is composed of aviation professionals, recreational pilots, and people interested in preserving aviation history. As a “living museum” they have a variety of antique aircraft flying on the field including Bi-Planes, Champs, and Cubs. This was their first time at the Bethpage Air Show. One of their pilots, flying the plane with “26” painted on it, is 90-year old pilot who served in World War II. Another of their Waco planes was flown by Anne Lindbergh (wife of Charles Lindbergh), and later, by Tom Cruise. These planes, made mainly of wood (to conserve steel for the war effort) were used as trainers.