New York Air Show 2017
On July 1 and 2, Stewart International Airport celebrated America’s birthday by holding its 3rd annual New York Air Show. The show got underway just after noon with the American National Anthem Flag Jump by the West Point Black Knights Parachute Team and Mike Wiskus circling in his Lucas Oil Pitts.
C-17 GlobeMaster III Demo
The flying activity began with Stewart’s own 105th AW (NYANG) demonstrating one of their C-17s. Starting in April 2011, the 105th AW received their first compliment of nine C-17 GlobeMaster IIIs, replacing their aging C-5A fleet. Flown by Lead Demo Pilot Lt. Col. Mark Cotton, the 105th AW is the only ANG unit in the country to fly a C-17 air show display. Cotton formally flew C-17s as Charleston AFB’s Program Manager and was responsible for bringing the program to Stewart. During the demo, a co-pilot and safety observer occupies the flight-deck alongside pilot Cotton. An additional pilot safety-observer monitors the display from the ground, detecting any concerns not seen from the air. All have spent numerous hours flying the show routine in a flight simulator.
The C-17 demo program is continuing a three year Air Force commitment started at Stewart in 2016. 2017 will see two demos- one at Stewart, the other at Barnes ANG Base, MA. The team will add more show sites for 2018, eventually becoming the Northeast C-17 Demonstration Team. The program syllabus consists of four different presentations. The holiday weekend audience witnessed a twelve-minute short-field takeoff (1,400 to 1,500 ft.) with high and low speed passes, and a short-field landing (2,200 ft.) routine. The performance also exhibited Ground-Positive and Demanding-Lift capabilities in a high-threat environment. Cotton stated the ANG tends to receive the oldest planes in the inventory however; he stressed these aircraft function and performs as if new. A testament to the dedication and quality hard work of the maintenance personnel!
Civilian acts David Windmiller’s Zivko Edge 540, Larry Labriola’s L-39 Jet and an agriculture crop spraying Air Tractor-602 flown by West Point’s USMA 2nd Aviation Commander CW4 Michael Rutledge was next to excite the audience. Commander Rutledge has logged abundant hours in a wide variety of military fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. Michael also has lots of experience flying WWII aircraft in numerous air shows around the country, including two warbirds of his own. His seven minute routine at Stewart was the first time an AT-602 had flown in a major air show.
The AT-602, owned by Farm Air Inc. along with a fleet of ten other agricultural aircraft, dusts farm crops within a hundred mile radius of their Astoria, IL home base. When applying product to the crops; starting at one end of a field, these skilled pilots dive down, sometimes having to avoid power lines and trees, to as low as three feet above the ground at 160 miles-per-hour before pulling up hard at the other end of the field, often avoiding more electrical lines and obstructions. The plane is then quickly turned and the process is repeated over and over again until every plant row in the field has been completely covered. During their six week summer season, these Farm Air Inc. pilots fly seven days a week, covering up to 2,000 mid-west acres in a sixteen-hour work day. The Stewart audience loved Michael’s demo and witnessed what those living in rural America often experience- watching a crop dusting plane at work can be an entertaining country air show.
Born on Long Island, NY, F-35A demo pilot Maj. Will “D-Rail” Andreotta had previously flown the F-16 for eight years at various bases in Korea, Italy and finally Luke AFB before transitioning to the F-35A Lightening II Joint Strike Fighter. Selection to the F-35A program was based on supply and need for pilots, pilot’s age, background and experience. Five pilots were immediately selected and sent to Eglin AFB for one month of ground and two months of flight simulator training.
The F-35 Lightening II is a fifth generation stealth fighter with upgraded avionics and more powerful, faster engines, but a similar flight-feel to the F-16. Other distinctions are; the F-16 has five independent cockpit screens generating information that has to be individually managed and processed by the pilot. The F-35 has twelve screens of information spawned from twelve on-board sensors. Data is processed or sensed together by an on-board computer and displayed onto one screen. The system is known as Sensory Fusion. That information, along with images produced from six cameras located throughout various positions on the jet, can be displayed on the visor of the pilot’s helmet providing “situational awareness.” The F-35 pilot helmet was specially made for the Lightning II driver and is comfortably custom laser-fit to the pilot’s head at a cost of $400,000.
With powerful jet engines roaring loud and after-burners glowing red hot, the F-35A Lightening II took-off along with Capt. John “Rain” Waters in the F-16C Viper and Andrew McKenna’s P-51 Mustang launching for their demos. All have a passion for performing at air shows and, interacting with and allowing an opportunity for the public to view the planes. Following the demos, the F-16C and P-51 joined on “D-Rail” holding in the F-35A for the Heritage Flight.
Air Combat Command (ACC) Heritage Flight
Heritage Flight winter practice takes place at Davis Monthan AFB with four days of flight training- flying four times a day working with various types of civilian WWII aircraft, with one day of flight manual study. A successful flight formation requires a huge trust factor between the military and civilian pilots. At air shows, the F-35A and F-16C ACC demo teams travel with spares jets whose pilots act as demonstration safety observers. The safety observer, positioned at show center, is responsible for observing any issues from the ground that may not be seen from the air. The Lightning II jet team has a roster of four safety observers that rotate duties during the air show season.
With McKenna in the P-51 leading the flight and making professionally sharp, precise radio calls; the two USAF jets tucked in close to the warbird as the three-ship formation made several passes in front of the crowd before breaking at show center. Air Boss George Cline commented it was the best Heritage Flight he had ever seen and the crowd agreed with enthusiastic approval.
Along with a mix of military static aircraft on the ramp (MAANG F-15×2, USMC NY KC-130, Army HH-60 and 105th AW C-17), there was an eclectic collection of civilian planes; a 1946 Global Swift, 1977 CESSNA 172N Float Plane and a 2001 SOCATA TB9 TAMPICO belonging to Pilots N Paws pilot Erik Unhjem.
Pilots N Paws
Pilots N Paws is an all volunteer not-for-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of innocent animals by way of airplane and ground vehicle transports. With the help of major corporate sponsors Subaru and Pet Mate, Pilots N Paws transfer at-risk pets to caring foster homes throughout the United States. Due to large numbers of puppy mills, kill shelters and less stringent sterilization laws in the southern United States, most movements take place from south to north. A large volume of rescue requests commonly occur after national disasters such as floods, earthquakes and fires. Pilots N Paws initiates requests for transports with posts to the group’s national bulletin board or to members email. Pilot’s responses and their real-time movements can be tracked via a map on the organization’s web site: http://www.pilotsnpaws.org
Pilot Erik can recall many memorable rescue missions, including a trip when a 150 pound hound sat next to him in the copilot’s seat and spent the entire trip with the dog’s head resting on his lap. Recounting another unforgettable journey, Eric was transporting eleven barking Labrador pups. When contacting air traffic control, their incessant background barking could be heard over the radio, bringing much levity to the controllers! Pilots and volunteers get involved in this great organization for a variety of reasons including; flying and seeing places one would not ordinarily go to as well as an opportunity to meet some really nice people. And pet people are especially nice! One of the greatest satisfactions for volunteering is seeing the joy on the faces of the pet’s new owners, particularly the children, when welcoming a pet to their new home. Every rescue delivery is like Christmas morning. But probably the biggest reward comes at the end of a mission when the pilots get their faces washed with doggie kisses!
Returning annually, Long Island, NY’s own and crowd favorite, GEICO Skytypers filled the clear blue sky with trailing smoke in their six-ship SNJ-2s as they crisscrossed the show box in constantly changing diamond and solo formations.
After a fourteen year absence, New Windsor, NY welcomed back the headlining U.S. Navy Blue Angels to Stewart. The U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds are scheduled to return September 15-16, 2018.