The 2021 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach in Wantagh will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30. Performers will also be making practice runs over Jones Beach on Friday, May 28. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Jones Beach parking is limited to 50 percent capacity for all three shows--and advance parking passes are sold out.
With tickets scarce, you might think your only option is parachuting into Jones Beach like the U.S. Army Golden Knights, the skydiving team among this year’s military performers. But don’t pack your ‘chute or lose hope just yet. Ticketless fans can also watch the high-flying stunts and astonishing aerobatics by top flight military and civilian performers with some alternative planning.
IF YOU GOT A PARKING PASS: Advance parking pass purchasers will be emailed a QR code needed for entry a week before the event. Those who don't receive it by Tuesday, May 25 can call 516-490-2400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Taxis, ride-shares and other ride services, including individual drop offs, will not be permitted. Empire parking passes are not valid for show entry.
BY BUS: NICE (Nassau Inter-County Express) will run N88 buses from the Freeport Long Island Rail Road station to Jones Beach about every 18 minutes from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on all three show days. Riders will be dropped off at the West Bath House just west of the park’s Central Mall where you can walk to the beach. Bus riders are required to wear a mask or face covering and follow social distancing guidelines.
BY BOAT: Watch the air show with a cocktail in hand on cruises out of the Nautical Mile in Freeport. At noon on Sunday, May 30, Freeport Water Taxi & Tours’ 44-foot catamaran will be leaving at 50 percent capacity (21 passengers) for a viewing party "as close as we can to the [Jones Beach] water tower because that’s the focal point of the jets," said Captain Rick Cohen. ($60 plus cash bar, 516-521-7744, freeportwatertaxi.com).
The Atlantic Pearl, the Capt. Lou Fleet’s 100-foot super-cruiser, is hosting viewing parties from 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. May 29-30. Spectators can bring a small cooler with food and one unopened bottle of water, but other beverages need to be purchased at the boat’s cash bar. Boarding at 11 a.m. at 111 Woodcleft Ave., The Nautical Mile, Freeport. ($55, 516-623-5823, captloufleet.com).
BY DINING RESERVATION: You don’t need an air show ticket to dine at Gatsby on the Ocean, the restaurant on the second floor of Jones Beach’s West Bath House, where patio tables offer an air show view. The $75 parking voucher can be used to buy a meal from a special air show menu including steak, pasta, lobster roll and salads. (516-785-0012, gatsbyontheocean.com)
VIA AN OFFSITE PARK: See the show from a different angle from the pier and long shoreline at Wantagh Park (1 King Road, Wantagh, 516-571-7460) or at nearby Cedar Creek Park. (3340 Merrick Rd., Seaford, 516-571-7470) Both parks are fully open with no capacity restrictions, but spectators are required to present proof of Nassau County residence.
Nassau County’s Nickerson Beach Park, located on Long Beach west of Jones Beach, also affords a view of the high-flying action. Parking is limited to 50 percent capacity and costs $15 for Nassau County Leisure Pass holders or $37 without a Leisure Pass. (880 Lido Blvd., Lido Beach, 516-571-7700)
ONSCREEN: For the first time, the air show is being live-streamed by WABC-TV on Saturday, May 29 at abc7ny.com, and via WABC’s Connected TV Apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku. (Rain date Sunday, May 30.)
PERFORMERS: This year’s military performers also include the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, the Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II and U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue. The civilian performers range from the American Airpower Museum Warbirds, the Bayport Aerodrome Society and the GEICO Skytypers to aerobatic flyer David Windmiller, aerial demonstration pilot Mike Goulian and the Farmingdale State College Flying Rams.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE SHOW: Show-goers won't be able to sit or stand along the boardwalk this year and are asked to remain on the beachfront. Jones Beach State Park concessions reopen for the season for the Friday practice show, serving new items such as gelato and Greek gyros, according to concessionaire Elias Trahanas.
MORE INFO: bethpageairshow.com