Bethpage NY Air Show 2018
For the 15th straight year, the annual Memorial Day Weekend New York Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, Long Island continued to make history and set new attendance records. Drawing added attention to the 2018 show were two familiar military jet demonstration teams- the United States Navy Blue Angels and Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds. Both teams last flew together at Jones Beach in 2016. 2018 also marked the 60th anniversary of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), a collaboration of friendship and mutual cooperation between Canada and the United States in defense of their respective nations.
With the usual $10 per car NY State Park entrance fee waived for the day, an estimated 82,000 fans started their holiday weekend early by attending the Friday practice show. Friday’s show goers were treated to plenty of beach space and help set a new record, previously held at 42,000. Under a canopy of clear warm skies, they watched both jet teams rehearsed. During the Blue Angel’s practice, #7 (F/A-18D) flew along with the team taking video and still photos as the jets executed their maneuvers.
While the Northeast U.S. was gripped in an oppressive hot, humid heatwave, Saturday at the beach was absolutely delightful with clear blue skies and brilliant dry sunshine bathed in a cool ocean breeze.
With an unfavorable weather forecast predicted for Sunday, fans were obviously taking advantage of Saturday’s excellent conditions. The record setting crowd arrived early.
Opening the show at 10 am, Air Boss Wayne Boggs kept control of the skies while announcer Rob Reider expertly called the action. The patriotic New York crowd was brought to its feet with the playing of the Canadian and American National Anthems. From 12,500 feet, and with Sean D. Tucker circling in his red biplane, the United States Army Golden Knights carried the colors of the two nations to the ground along with the New York State flag. The formal flying began with a five-ship formation by nearby Farmingdale’s State College Department of Aviation. Following- Farmingdale’s (Republic Field) own GEICO Skytypers and American Air Power Museum Warbirds continued their annual tradition of flying at Jones Beach. This year, the museum was represented by a B-25, T-28, Grumman TBF Avenger, B-17 Yankee Lady (Ypsilanti, MI) and P-40, which performed an individual demo. Later in the day, additional civilian fliers included John Klatt’s “Screamin Sasquatch” Jet Waco, Matt Chapman’s Embry Riddle Eagle 580 and David Windmiller in his Zivko Edge 540.
By noon the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds were taking center stage. For forty-eight years the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron has been thrilling audiences with breathtaking aerobatic performances across Canada and throughout the United States. Afterwards, another exhilarating performance was executed by the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor from Langley AFB, VA. Demo team pilot Maj Paul “Loco” Lopez demonstrated the stealth fighter’s awesome potential before joining on the P-51 Mustang for the Heritage Flight.
The Bethpage show has a custom of honoring their own, including local heroes from Long Island’s Grabeski Field. Every year, the 106th Rescue Wing has been demonstrating their assets at Jones Beach. The 106th deploys worldwide; providing combat search and rescue coverage for U.S. and allied forces with a mission of worldwide Personnel Recovery, Combat Search and Rescue, Expeditionary Combat Support, and Civil Search and Rescue in support of Federal and State authorities.
Before the Blue Angels completed the day, Sean D. Tucker in his Team Oracle Challenger III made history by once again wowing the crowd in his final performance at Jones Beach. During his thirteen minute Sky Dance routine,Tucker experienced nine positive and seven negative g-forces. His routine included double hammerheads, alley oops, forward flips, snap rolls and sometimes flying backwards descending in a controlled tumble before finishing with his famous harrier pass. After the 2018 airshow season, the sixty-five year Tucker plans to retire from solo aerobatics. Since 1976, the Salinas, CA airshow legend has flown more than 1,300 performances in over 540 air shows. In his flying lifetime, Sean has logged more than 26,000 flight hours, won numerous awards and is one of twenty-five living legends of aviation. His famous red biplane, the Oracle Challenger III, will also be retired and go on permanent display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Throughout the weekend there was plenty to do on the ground as well. Numerous vendors lined the beach boardwalk along with an Army National Guard static display at the west end which included an HH-60 from Long Island’s MacArthur Airport.
Unfortunately Sunday’s forecast turned out to be worse than initially predicted, forcing authorities to cancel the show, but not before Saturday’s crowd had set a new one day attendance record for Jones
Beach with an estimated 207,000 visitors. Many of those stayed after the show to enjoy the remainder of the beautiful day while a pair of NY State Police helicopters flew overhead monitoring the departing vehicular traffic. Authorities did a fantastic job of keeping the large volume of congestion moving. It was smooth driving leaving the park.
Next year’s show will take place May 24-26, 2019 and feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. If you are looking to escape the heat, watch an exciting patriotic airshow and witness history, check out: http://airshow.jonesbeach.com OR http://bethpageairshow.com.