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Bethpage Air Show to showcase women

U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Capt. Michelle Curran is

U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Capt. Michelle Curran is among four female pilots who will perform in this year's Bethpage Air Show.  Credit: U.S. Air Force

This year’s Bethpage Air Show showcases women: U.S. Air Force Capt. Michelle Curran of the Thunderbirds and stunt pilot Jessy Panzer will blaze through the skies on Memorial Day weekend at Wantagh’s Jones Beach State Park.

Curran, an experienced fighter pilot, flies “opposing solo” in the number six spot, demonstrating the maximum capabilities of the F-16, the team says.

Panzer, an acrobatic pilot and air racer, will fly with Team Oracle’s Sean D. Tucker, as he has transitioned from solos to duets, air show officials said.

The Thunderbirds team, putting in their seventh appearance at the 16th annual show, includes two other women in leadership positions: No. 10 Capt. Lauren Venturini, an executive officer on the team and No. 11 Capt. Kassandra Mangosing, the team’s maintenance officer, they said.

Performers for the May 25-26 show include one of the most unusual air show teams: the Red Bull aerobatic helicopter, which will pull off loops, barrel rolls, nose-dives and flips, all feats that are unimaginable in other helicopters.

“We have a dynamic air show lineup and it will be more entertaining than ever with Red Bull’s participation,” said George Gorman, Long Island regional director of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

“The helicopter does amazing things — and then we have the parachutists,” said Gorman, noting there will be two teams featuring parachutists: the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights and four members of Red Bull.

Red Bull pilot Aaron Fitzgerald, performing at Jones Beach for the first time, is a former U.S. Army paratrooper and Medal of Valor recipient.

Returning stars, officials said, include: the U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet, stunt pilots Matt Chapman and Long Island’s David Windmiller, the John Klatt Airshows — Jack Links’ Screamin’ Sasquatch Jet Waco aerobatic team, the GEICO Skytypers in six vintage World War II aircraft, the American Airpower Museum War Birds, the B17 Yankee Lady, and the SUNY Farmingdale State College Flying Rams.

The military views air shows a way to attract recruits, demonstrate fight readiness and prove taxpayer dollars are well spent.

The Thunderbirds typically alternate their performances with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, who closed last year’s show on Saturday. Rain forced Sunday’s 2018 show to be canceled.

In 2017, more than 347,000 people turned out to see the Thunderbirds fly high, officials said.

“If you haven’t gotten to see the show yet, I strongly encourage you to go. It’s a remarkable show and a wonderful beach event to spend with family and friends on Memorial Day weekend,” said Linda Armyn, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Bethpage Federal Credit Union, the show's sponsor.

A new app, called BP Air Show, should smooth the way for fans by providing show and parking updates, a map of Jones Beach, biographies of the performers and links to their websites and social media pages, a newsfeed, links to the show’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds and the WHLI live broadcast, and a chance to win four VIP tickets to next year’s show.

The app also offers instructions for a photo hunt, hosted by Bethpage credit union, which encourages fans to send in photos of “miscellaneous show items only found at Jones Beach” during the show.

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