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Near-record attendance as day two of the Bethpage Air Show comes to a close

Crowds of people watch from Jones Beach in

Crowds of people watch from Jones Beach in Wantagh as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform at the 11th annual Bethpage Air Show on Sunday, May 25, 2014. Credit: Mike Busch/Great South Bay Images

Sunny skies, a near-record crowd and some jaw-dropping aerial displays marked the second day of the 11th Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park.

Cool, cloudy weather kept attendance for Saturday's show at about 86,000 but warmer temperatures that hit the low 70s by showtime brought out a huge crowd Sunday, said George Gorman Jr., deputy regional director for New York State Parks.

Gorman said nearly 231,000 people attended Sunday's show. Many spread out towels on the Jones Beach sand to watch the procession of vintage planes and cutting-edge aircraft flip, dive and soar overhead.

The show started with Sgt. David Flynn of the U.S. Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights, dropping from 4,000 feet with an American flag as a biplane looped around him. He landed in a 200 foot by 200 foot square on the beach as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played.

"It looked like it was shoulder to shoulder," Flynn said of the crowd viewed from above. "Flying in the American flag with the national anthem playing is definitely a highlight of my career."

The fact that it's Memorial Day weekend "is definitely motivation to hit the center," he said.

Amy Chmelecki and the Red Bull Air Force skydivers jumped out of a plane in "wing suits," streaming colored smoke, before deploying parachutes.

"You have to make sure you're on your game. You don't want to land in the water or hit anyone," said Chmelecki, a native of Westchester County, after she packed her parachute. "But it's a big target for us and the winds were favorable."

After jumping from 12,000 feet, Golden Knight Sgt. Travis Downing, 23, of Dallas, Georgia, said, "It was an awesome day. You come out of the plane and people are everywhere, and then there's a clean space where you're landing."

On the beach, revelers enjoyed the weather, flight acrobatics and people-watching.

"We love the planes," said Philip Jugenheimer, 72, of Bayside.

"And the crowds," said his wife, Louise, 67. Except, she said, for a half-hour restroom line wait. The two usually attend on Saturdays, but came Sunday because of the weather forecast.

Onlookers also saw the return of the Navy's Blue Angels. They canceled last year due to federal budget cuts.

Chris Geackel, 49, of Lindenhurst, and retired from the Air Force, said, "This is closest I'll get to being back in the military."

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