Performers at Friday’s practice for the Bethpage Air Show soared under partly blue skies, though both Saturday and Sunday shows are jeopardized because of rain in the forecast.

Clouds rolled in over Jones Beach by Friday afternoon and rain arrived Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service. The chance of rain Saturday was 80%, with winds up to 20 mph and gusts as high as 33 mph.

There was a 60% chance of rain Sunday, with winds at about 16 mph.

Pilots with the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds and the A-10 Thunderbolt II, along with U.S. Army Golden Knights parachutists, were hopeful that the forecasts would prove wrong.

"We’re always hopeful," said Thunderbirds Lt. Col. Kevin DiFalco, explaining the team needs a minimum ceiling of at least 2,000 feet and visibility of five nautical miles.

Cancellation, delays, and cutting or shortening some air show performances all are possibilities, explained George Gorman, Long Island regional director at the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The Thunderbirds, along with other pilots, rehearse different variations of their shows depending on the weather.

If the team is limited to the flat show, the lowest of the three, vertical stunts or loops will not be allowed. But there will be "a lot of low-altitude passes," DiFalco said, including the opposing solos passing each other, each traveling around 400 mph.

Sgt. 1st Class Justin Blewitt of the Golden Knights, who has jumped 10,900 times, said the team will be grounded if winds top 20 mph.

In high winds, the team makes tighter formations, "so we get to the ground a little bit faster" and are less exposed to gusts, he said. But Blewitt still hopes to enlist any children who wish to help the team pack their parachutes after they stick their landings at show center.

Since the air show began — this is the 17th performance — the full two-day show has never been canceled because of weather, Gorman said. One day of the shows in 2013 and 2018 were canceled.

Last year's air show was canceled due to COVID-19.

Recalling the Thunderbirds’ flights over New York and across the country last year honoring front line workers who risked their lives battling the coronavirus, DiFalco said: "We are truly inspired by how New York overcame every challenge with grit and determination."

Tech. Sgt. Brian Pontes of the A-10 team also stressed the team’s preparations and patriotism. "We’re super excited to be here; we can’t wait to put on a performance to show the super capacity of our aircraft, especially on such a super important weekend."

Gorman also emphasized the somber aspect of the Memorial Day holiday, "to pay tribute" to all who served.

And as state parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "If there is anything that epitomizes the start of summer on Long Island," it's the air show.

"There’s nothing like it," he said.

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If either show is canceled, the $10 event passes can be returned in exchange for two free passes to visit any state park.

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