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Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach: Must-see planes and performances

The Bethpage Air Show, honoring America’s military, returns this Memorial Day weekend with more breathtaking military and civilian hardware and daredevil aerobatics. But getting a sandy ringside seat by the Atlantic can be a feat unto itself — especially under sunny skies. The Thunderbirds U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron is making its seventh appearance at the annual show, demonstrating the maximum capabilities of the F-16. For the first time, three women are flying in squadron leadership positions.

To avoid a repeat of last year’s Ocean Parkway bumper-to-bumper jam, Western Suffolk spectators should take Wantagh State Parkway to Jones Beach State Park, says George Gorman, Long Island deputy regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “Traffic was free flowing on the Wantagh and the Meadowbrook, so we are encouraging everyone to take those routes.”

The new air show app will provide up-to-date alerts on the parking situation plus live show updates, a radio broadcast and links to performer social media pages. There’s even an interactive game for kids: a photo hunt challenging players to find images of items found only at the air show. Download it via AppleApp Store or Google Play.

The Bethpage Air Show takes place 10 a.m.-3 p.m. May 25-26 at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh.

 

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

The Thunderbirds U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron
Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

The Thunderbirds U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron is making its seventh appearance at the annual show, demonstrating the maximum capabilities of the F-16. For the first time, three women are flying in squadron leadership positions.

Red Bull aerobatic helicopter

Red Bull aerobatic helicopter pilot Aaron Fitzgerald performs
Photo Credit: Red Bull/Predrag Vuckovic

This lightweight whirlybird puts on an aerobatic show few, if any, copters can match — flipping forward and backward, doing barrel rolls, loops, nose dives and vertical climbs that will take your breath away. It’s hero pilot — former U.S. Army Paratrooper and Medal of Valor recipient Aaron Fitzgerald — soars around with four skydivers from the Red Bull Air Force.

U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue

The Coast Guard Search and Rescue Team will
Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demonstration team

The Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod reenacts a seagoing rescue with an aircrew of two pilots, a flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer. The twin-engine MH-60T Jayhawk that spectators will see in action is the Coast Guard’s Medium Range Recovery helicopter, operating at nine air stations throughout the United States, with a range of 300 nautical miles.

Sean Tucker and Jessy Panzer

In a preview of this weekend's Bethpage Airshow
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Tucker is making a last hurrah before the expected retirement of his Oracle Challenger II biplane to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which named him a “Living Legend of Flight.” Panzer, a civilian flyer, and her Oracle Extra 300L will be chasing Tucker, flying in formation with Tucker and joining him in maneuvers such as Cuban rolls, which Panzer describes as “a combination of looping and rolling.”

GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team

Geico's Skytypers fly over the south shore of
Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Six World War II-era aircraft encore their low-level precision-formation flying. Their and skywriting messages can be as tall as the Empire State building and as much as eight miles long.

American Airpower Museum Warbirds

Vintage aircraft, American Airpower Museum Warbirds, perform during
Photo Credit: Newsday/Ed Betz

The museum’s collection of aircraft makes formation passes up and down the beach, slow enough for spectators to Instagram.

The United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team

The Golden Knights, the US Army's official aerial
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Williams

The ambassadors of the Army’s official demonstration team are a crowd favorite, passing a baton at 120 miles per hour, flying the American flag at 12,000 feet and landing on a target.

David Windmiller

Aerobatic pilot David Windmiller flies over Long Island's
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Melville’s civilian flying ace and his Zivko Edge 540 acrobatic plane perform high-speed tumbles and flips.

The U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet

JONES BEACH, NY. SATURDAY MAY 28, 2011. US
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra_Villa

A flight demonstration shows off the mobility, versatility and power of the mighty F/A-18F.

SUNY Farmingdale State College’s Flying Rams

The SUNY Farmingdale Flying Rams will be in
Photo Credit: SUNY Farmingdale Flying Rams/Alan Hlavenka

Seven of the college’s 22 aircraft perform a fly-by piloted by their top academic professional pilot performers.

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