The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach will go on as scheduled Sunday after poor weather cancelled Saturday's show.
"The show is on," said state parks regional director George Gorman Jr.
Shortly after the pilot's briefing at 7 a.m. Gorman said traffic was light. He predicted a "good crowd, but not an overwhelming crowd." Saturday's cancellation was the first in the 10-year history of the air show.
With the two-day event compressed into one, Gorman said he expected high attendance that should offset most of the loss of revenue from beach parking fees and food and merchandise sales. About 400,000 turned out for the two days of last year's show.
With input from air show organizers, Gorman made the decision to cancel yesterday's aerobatics after hearing the latest forecast from the National Weather Service at a 7 a.m. pilot briefing.
After making the call, Gorman alerted the media and the state transportation department, which posted the information on its highway INFORM signs. Other signs were posted at Jones Beach. The word got out quickly, and no one joined the handful of would-be spectators who showed up early.
"The weather made the decision for us," Gorman said. "Light rain and chance of heavy downpours, winds aloft with gusts to 40 or 50 miles per hour and a chance of ice in the higher altitudes could jeopardize the safety of the performers."
Even if the planes could have flown safely, lousy weather probably would have greatly reduced attendance, Gorman said. "It was bitter cold down at Jones Beach."
Veteran aerobatic pilot Sean Tucker agreed with the decision to cancel Saturday.
"These are serious weather conditions," he said. "There's significant wind shear with two different speeds of wind. . . . At least half the performers would not have been able to fly in the rain."
Wayne Boggs, the show's "air boss," or traffic controller, said "it all boils down to safety."
Boggs said the visibility usually has to be 1,500 feet vertically and five miles horizontally before the show can go on. But rain and cold can make flying unsafe even if there is sufficient visibility.
Because Jones Beach is 12 miles from the staging area at Republic Airport and the planes carry limited fuel, bad weather reduces their margin of error, Tucker said.
Tucker, who usually performs at 20 air shows annually, said there are typically one or two cancellation days from bad weather.
While the Air Force's Thunderbirds precision flying team had to drop out of this year's show because of federal budget cuts, other modern and historic military aircraft will be flying, along with aerobatic planes and parachute teams.
For the latest on the show schedule, visit bethpageairshow.com.
--With David Schwartz