The US Air Force Thunderbirds will headline the annual Memorial Day weekend Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, flying the thrilling red, white and blue F-16s.
The event takes place at Jones Beach State Park, Saturday May 27 and Sunday May 28, noon to 5 p.m. (get there early to get parking).
This year’s air show marks the return of the American Airpower Museum Warbirds, which present historic aircraft in a moving display.
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 (who return later in the show for a full program), delivering the American flag to a tiny target on Jones Beach, parachuting from an altitude of 12,500 ft. at speed of 120 mph. The whole team then returns for a demonstration performance.
The line-up also includes many returning favorites, as well as some new entries:
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 3,000lbs of thrust. This system allows the plane to achieve feats other stunt planes are unable to do. The plane will be at a thrust ratio of 1 to 1, which allows it to accelerate going straight up.
A perennial favorite at Jones Beach is Sean 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 eight ailerons instead of four, and responds to the slightest pressure on the control stick even at 300 mph.
Tucker flies the aircraft backwards, straight-down, tail-first at more than 100 mph.
More than half of Tucker’s maneuvers are original and have never been duplicated by another aerobatic pilot.
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.
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.
SUNY Farmingdale Aerospace’s Flying Rams will fly 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
106th Air National Guard Rescue Wing deploys worldwide to provide combat search and rescue coverage for U.S. and allied forces. 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. The 106th Air National Guard Rescue Wing provides Personnel Recovery to the state of New York.
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.
The Warrior Flight Team is a 501(c)(3) charity comprised of a team of all volunteers and assets assembled to bring rewarding career opportunities to those who have served their country and sacrificed tremendously in the process, yet still strive to give even more of themselves.
Hint: Head down to Jones Beach on Friday May 26 from noon to 5 p.m. for a full practice. It’s a great chance to catch the show with fewer crowds. (In 2016, there was near record attendance of 405,012 for the two days and some years, they have shut down the highways when the park reached capacity.)
The Bethpage Air Show takes place at Jones Beach State Park, Wantagh; $10 vehicle use fee.