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 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
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 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
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
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
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 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.
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
A flight demonstration shows off the mobility, versatility and power of the mighty F/A-18F.
SUNY Farmingdale State College’s Flying Rams
Seven of the college’s 22 aircraft perform a fly-by piloted by their top academic professional pilot performers.