Crowds on the beach and boardwalk at Jones Beach take...

Crowds on the beach and boardwalk at Jones Beach take in the spectacle of the annual Bethpage Air Show on Saturday. Credit: Morgan Campbell

A deafening roar interrupted Lisa Abrew, of Massapequa, as she reflected on her love of the Blue Angels.

An F/A-18 Hornet, one of six U.S. Navy Blue Angels jets performing in tandem at Saturday’s 20th annual Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, zoomed directly overhead, creating the unmistakable boom of a fighter jet.

“Oh my god! That was awesome,” Abrew, 61, said, as if just stepping off a roller coaster. “It never gets tiring.”

A crowd of 171,000 watched in awe under clear blue skies as the Blue Angels capped off Day 1 of the five-hour air show. The “Top Gun” theme song blared over speakers as the Navy demonstration squadron flew over the shoreline for the final time.

Tips for Sunday

  • Plan to arrive well before the 10 a.m. start to secure parking. Field lots open at 6 a.m.
  • The forecast calls for cloudier skies Sunday, but still remember sunscreen.
  • Security allows spectators to bring one 12-ounce alcohol container per adult. Coolers with food and non-alcoholic beverages are allowed.

The Memorial Day weekend spectacle featured dazzling stunts, military demonstrations and vintage performances of World War II aircraft. And the show featured extra pomp to celebrate the show's 20th anniversary.

Announcer Rob Reider, who will be retiring after this season, welcomed the crowd for his final Jones Beach show.

“We celebrate, we aviate and we commemorate,” he said, later in the show.

The show got underway just after 10 a.m. as crowds on the beach turned toward the east to watch the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, high in the sky, glide down.

As three jumpers linked, they unveiled an American flag. And as the final verses of the national anthem played, the jumpers landed in the sandy drop zone and the crowd erupted in cheers.

And with that, the summer season on Long Island was launched.

The Golden Knights make their descent Saturday.

The Golden Knights make their descent Saturday. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Parking lots reached capacity by 10:30 a.m. and state park officials diverted all traffic afterward away from the park. Beachgoers had lugged coolers, chairs and umbrellas early Saturday morning to claim prime seating on the beach.

“It’s just a great day no matter what’s going on elsewhere, come here and have a good time,” said Linda Siblano of Wantagh.

Siblano, who works for sponsor Bethpage Federal Credit Union, said she attends the air show nearly every year. 

A spectacle by land, sea and air: The Bethpage Air...

A spectacle by land, sea and air: The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach roars on Saturday. Credit: Morgan Campbell

On Saturday morning, a C-130 Hercules plane from the 106th Air National Guard Rescue Wing based in Westhampton Beach demonstrated a 25-degree turn as it flew parallel to the beach.

Then it was joined by two HH-60G Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopters, and demonstrated a midair refuel. The helicopters extended their refueling probes, flying close behind the massive plane.

Joe Rizzi, 28, of Patchogue, watched the demonstration from the boardwalk. He said he came to support his friends who are members of the 106th.

“My roommate is one of the [helicopter] pilots,” he said.

Shortly after 11 a.m., the first huge boom from a fighter jet echoed across the beach as the F-35C Lightning, “the most advanced fighter jet in the world,” the announcer said, zoomed past the thousands of spectators.

The aircraft, capable of flying faster than the speed of sound, performed several maneuvers such as tactical pitch.

Later, an A-10 Thunderbolt “Warthog” attack jet dropped flares that lit up against the blue sky. For the 11-person demo team based out of Tucson, Arizona, this will be their last performance at Jones Beach because the A-10, which was first built in the late 1970s, will be retired.

After the A-10 performance, pilot David Windmiller wowed the crowd with his aerial acrobatics, like a spiraling tower, aboard an Edge 540 airplane.

“What a talented flyer he is!” Reider exclaimed to the crowd.

A plane maneuvers at the Bethpage Air Show on Saturday.

A plane maneuvers at the Bethpage Air Show on Saturday. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Crowds there early

About an hour before the start, a huge crowd had already gathered on the beach in front of the main viewing area. By 8:30, 90 minutes before the show's scheduled start, Parking Field 4 was already filled. 

Music blared from speakers across the beach as people walked the boardwalk, which was lined with booths. A large American flag waved from a lone lifeguard stand near an entrance onto the beach.

Lisa Kouletsis, of Long Beach, waited in line Saturday morning for the "Flyby photos" booth before the show started, with her daughters Gabriella, 20, and Daniella, 17.

She said the air show has become a tradition in their family since her kids were young.

"It's so patriotic," the mother said. "We have so much fun." 

The throngs arrive Saturday morning at Jones Beach for the Bethpage...

The throngs arrive Saturday morning at Jones Beach for the Bethpage Air Show, which got underway just after 10 a.m. Credit: Morgan Campbell

As part of the 20th anniversary, organizers honored several key people who make the show possible, including Wayne Boggs, the air boss who coordinates air traffic and has done all 20 shows.

George Gorman, regional director of Long Island state parks, said the Blue Angels and a civilian performer both recommended Boggs when park officials organized the first air show at Jones Beach.

Boggs told the crowd he is not a native New Yorker, but every time he returns, he feels as if he is home.

The second and final day of the show is Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. As many as 200,000 people are expected. 

NCC faculty suing school … MacArthur new flights … Going for the gold Credit: Newsday

Riverhead teachers protest ... NCC faculty suing school ... Primary day ... Jones Beach adds new artists

NCC faculty suing school … MacArthur new flights … Going for the gold Credit: Newsday

Riverhead teachers protest ... NCC faculty suing school ... Primary day ... Jones Beach adds new artists

Latest Videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME