REPUBLIC AIRPORT – THE OTHER JONES BEACH AIR SHOW
The Jones Beach Air Show, officially known as the “Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park 2019”, was held on Saturday and Sunday, May 26th and 27th, 2019, at — Jones Beach! But there was another air show going on at Republic Airport (FRG) in East Farmingdale, Long Island, New York, about 8 miles northwest of Jones Beach, where most of the air show performers were staging out of for the short hop to the Beach. I stayed at Republic and was rewarded by being able to get really close to most of the air show planes staging out of FRG. Plus I didn’t have to bake on the Beach in the 90 degree heat that day. If you got to Republic by 8:30 you could find a good parking spot on the street and near the gate to the American Airpower Museum ramp and the adjacent Sheltair FBO ramp where most of the aircraft on the show parked.
Typically, only a few hundred, a thousand at most, come to the AAM Museum ramp to see the show planes position and take off for the Beach, so visitors to the Museum, after paying a nominal fee, got a chance to get really close to most of the show planes all day while they are towed, prepped and fueled prior to lining up on Runway 1-19 for a southbound takeoff and climb out to Show Center at Jones Beach, eight miles away. The Hold Point for 19 is right on the Museum ramp so you get a chance to get pretty close to the takeoff rollouts. Most of the 20 warbird aircraft owned by the AAM Museum do fly and were in the show. There were also numerous visiting warbirds on the ramp making it quite a busy place. The wire was close to where the planes cranked up so it was possible to get fairly close to the aircraft being prepped for takeoff on the nearby Runway 19. And when I say “close”, I mean like 100 feet from the runway edge! So its quite exciting to see all these airplanes on the run ups that are so close and personal.
The B-17G Super Fortress “Yankee Lady”, again down from the Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport in Yipsilanti, Michigan, was quite busy all day doing revenue flights at $450 per passenger. Ramp spectators we able to get pretty close to the WW2 bomber to see engine start ups and rollouts. And if you were lucky enough or rich enough to get on a B-17 ride, well, you just had the “Ultimate Thrill” that day!
The close proximity of the Museum ramp to the runway got really exciting when the F/A-18F Super Hornet from VFA-106 “Gladiators” for the Navy Super Hornet Demonstration Team out of Oceana taxied out from the nearby FBO ramp, held at 19, and then went full burner on his max climb out going ballistic vertical to his assigned altitude in seconds almost in front of us. Everybody had their ear plugs in or at least had their hands covering their ears on that ear-shattering burner take off. The Thunderbirds staged out of Islip Airport, about 20 miles to the east, which really reduced the usual spectators in cars that would normally ring the perimeter road around the runways. That was a little bit of a disappointment not having the T-Birds here, unless you went over to Islip Airport.
The “Over The Beach” show lineup consisted of the following “Acts” that were performed over the water, 1500 feet from the high water line, as required per FAA Regulations:
(1) The B-17G Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady” out of the Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan;
(2) The US Army Parachute Team “Golden Knights” out of Fort Bragg, NC, with their new Dash-8 Series 300 Bombardier (DeHaviland DH-8) Jump Plane. The new Dash-8 is officially designated as the DHC-8 300 MSN 315. The Dash-8’s will replace the two Fokker C-31A Troopships. The team has two Dash-8’s; one for the “Gold Team” and one for the “Black Team”, in reference to the colors of the US Army. The Army yellow and white Dash-8 used the adjacent FBO ramp.
(3) The US Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demonstration flying the Sikorsky MH-60T “Jayhawk” out of Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod. The Jayhawk refueled at the FBO ramp.
(4) American Airpower Museum Warbirds: Over twenty museum warbirds and visiting warbirds took part with Beach flybys and tactical demos as part of the air show;
(5) Bayport Aerodrome Society: A number of classic bi-wings, Aeronca Champion “Champ” aircraft and Piper J-3 Cubs flew over the Beach from the Bayport Aerodrome Society, a 24 hanger complex with 70 privately owned antique and experimental aircraft based out of the “Bayport Aerodrome” (FAA-23N) near Islip Airport in Bayport, LI. The aerodrome, formerly known as Davis Field and later Edwards Airport, is a historic grass field actually registered on the US National Register of Historic Places. The airport is about 20 miles east of Jones Beach;
(6) David Windmiller was up in his Zivko Edge 540 red mono-wing aerobatic stunt plane. Windmiller is a 48 hear old local boy from nearby Millville here on Long Island;
7) John Klatt Airshows brought his famous Jack Link’s “Scream’in Sasquatch” red and black Jet Waco bi-plane. The airplane is a highly modified 1929 Taperwing aircraft with, besides a Pratt and Whitney 985 radial gasoline engine, also has a GE-CJ-610 (J85) jet engine with 3,000 lbs of thrust strapped to its fuselage belly. When he fuels up, he asks for both 100LL gas and Jet A fuel. Just a little different. He came here with a red mono-wing Extra 330L and a twin-engine Beech Baron support plane;
(8) Matt Chapman came in with his bright yellow Embry-Riddle Extra 330LX tandem two-seat low wing aerobatic mono-wing tail dragger stunt plane:
(9) Aaron Fitzgerald rotated in with his Red Bull BO-105C aerobatic helicopter, the only helicopter certified for high performance aerobatics. The helicopter is actually a MBB Bo 105, a Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm Bo 105, a light twin-engined, multi-purpose helicopter specially developed by Bolkow of Ottobrunn, West Germany. It is the first light twin-engined aerobatic helicopter in the world and the first rotorcraft that could perform aerobatic maneuvers such as inverted loops. It was introduced in 1970. It developed spinoffs after 2001 into the MBB / Kawasaki BK-117 and the Eurocopter EC135;
(10) The Farmingdale State College “Flying Rams” came in with 5 of their 22 college-owned aircraft piloted by five instructors who are recent graduates in the Professional Pilot Program at SUNY Farmingdale in LI. The aircraft are based here at Republic Airport. The SUNY program offers BS Degrees in Aviation Management and Professional Pilot degrees;
(11) Mr. Sean D. Tucker and his new Teammate, Miss Jessy Panzer, came to Republic with a 2-ship package flight demo over the Beach. Sean came with his red Oracle Challenger III biplane, (soon to be permanently on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum) and Jessy came with a red mono-wing Oracle Extra 330L. They have developed an outstanding 2-ship aerobatic performance;
(12) Near the end of the show was the Team everyone in the Northeast knows and loves – the GEICO Skytypers. They are based here at Republic with their own hanger at the south end of the airport. They fly their vintage 6-ship grey SNJ-2 Texan trainers, with one of planes currently in a new GEICO commercial on TV. Besides their computerized dot skywriting system, the Team has perfected their signature low altitude WW2 ACM and CAS military maneuvers demonstration with smoke on that always pleases the crowd;
(13) Next to Last, but certainly not the Least, was the United States Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet Tactical Demonstration Team (TACDEMO) from VFA-106, “The Gladiators”, up from NAS Oceana. VFA-106, Strike Fighter Squadron ONE ZERO SIX, is the East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) which has, besides it being home to the Super Hornet Demo Team, has a mission at Oceana to train newly newly winged Navy aircrew in the tactical employment of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The two Super Hornets, one for the demo and one as back-up, used the FBO ramp next to the Museum ramp;
(14) Finally, the Star of the Show, was the United States Air Force Flight Demonstration Squadron the “Thunderbirds” flying six F-16C Fighting Falcon (Viper) fighter jets and two support F-16 two-seat Deltas. The Thunderbirds are assigned to the 57th Wing ACC, working out of Nellis AFB. A C-17A Globemaster III, assigned from various units, is its support aircraft. For the Jones Beach Show, the Thunderbirds staged out of Long Island’s MacArthur Airport / Islip Airport (ISP) at Ronkonkoma, LI, NY, 30 miles east of Jones Beach.
BUT……I didn’t go to the Beach to roast and bake in the sand with the other 100,000 sun worshipers and plane chasers on that hot Saturday. I went to the other Jones Beach Air Show at the Republic Airport, where most of the planes were staging out of and I think I got the better deal. The planes were nice and close! The new name of this air show — “Bethpage Air Show” — alludes to an interesting bit of local aviation history in Long Island. Bethpage Airport used to be about five miles to the northeast of Republic Airport. Bethpage, LI, was the location of the primary manufacturing plant for the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation up to the late 1980’s. Grumman Cats went through assembly and primary flight testing there and were later flown out to Calverton Airport in the eastern end of Long Island for final assembly and final flight testing in a MOA off the coast.
F-14 file photo © Ken Kula
“Grumman Bethpage ” ceased operations in 1991 with the final production of the last F-14 Tomcat after 712 were built at Bethpage. As is always the case on Long Island with closed airports, the Grumman plant and airport became a shopping center. Similarly, Republic Airport, here in Farmingdale. Long Island, was, until 1985, home to the Fairchild-Republic Aviation Corporation, the manufacturer of all those fine Republic warbirds and fighter jets that concluded its military stint with the A-10 Warthog after 716 were built at Republic. Fairchild-Republic at Republic Airport made one last gasp to stay alive when it designed the Fairchild T-46 twin tail, twin jet trainer that Fairchild-Republic proposed for the USAF to replace the Cessna T-37 Tweet. Only three aircraft were built and the T-46 program was cancelled in 1986, supposedly for budget reasons That cancelation with no new military proposals in sight, effectively ended the life of the Fairchild-Republic Corporation here at Republic Corporation. The vast Republic plant was at the north end of the airport near the AAM Museum ramp, whose current museum hanger was also part of the Republic plant. The gigantic Republic plant was shut down in the late 1980’s. The Republic plant buildings were torn down in the early 90’s and became – guess what – another Long Island shopping center!
The American Airpower Museum ramp is right at the north end of the field at the touch-down / take-off point on the numbers for Runway 19, and less than 100 feet from the edge of the runway. It was a perfect location to watch all the show planes prepping, fueling, taxiing and taking off for the Beach. The ramp was also perfect for getting close to most of the parked show planes, museum planes and visiting warbirds and visiting GA DV’s. Surprisingly, there were 50 planes here at the museum ramp. All were flying except for a few “Museum Static” (MS) exhibit planes. Starting from the north and walking down we saw: (1) a Marine Grumman EA-6B Prowler from VAQ-129 “Vikings”, an FRS unit out of NAS Whidbey Island (MS); (2) a 1988 Czech Aero Vodochody L-39C “Albatross” in green camo aggressor colors of the 557th AS/TFS famous in the the Vietnam War for flying F-4C’s; (3) a 1992 Czech Aero Vodochody L-39ZA “Albatross” in grey camo Chinese Taiwan colors; (4) a 1971 Twin Beech Baron 55; (5) a 2001 Dassault Socata TBM-700B; (6) a 2003 blue and white Extra EA-350 Flugzeugbau 2-seat mono-wing aerobatic stunt plane; (7) North American T-28 Trojan in SEA tan camo (MS); (8) a 1949 silver and striped tail North American AT-6D Texan Trainer “Double Trouble”; (9) a1942 Vought (Goodyear) FG-1D Corsair “N51” from VMF-913; (10) a silver gloss North American P-51D Mustang “Tigers Revenge”, TF-51D, 167th FS, WV-ANG; (11) a 1942 Consolidated-Vultee PBY-6A Catalina “Kittles Cat”, turquoise light blue, fuselage only, spray-lit, wings and engines are in Florida and currently being restored by AAM to flying status (MS);
Further down the line, (12) a 1942 North American AT-6D Texan trainer, grey with red bands and yellow wings; (13) a 1944 Douglas C-47B / DC-3C Dakota, olive drab, invasion stripes, white belly, “D8” nose, “Second Chance” nose art; (14) a Fairchild-Republic A-10A Warthog, Pacific Air Force, “OS” tail, Osan AFB, Korea (MS); (15) a 1941 Curtiss P-40N Warhawk “The Jackie C” with green and brown camo with shark teeth nose art; (16) a 1940 North American RB-25-NA Mitchell bomber “Miss Hap”, in 1943 converted by NA into a VIP for a personal transport for General Henry “Hap” Arnold, CO of USAAF, owned in the 50s by Howard Hughes, and until 1989 by the owner of the Avrex flight jacket company, and now the primo airplane of the AAM museum, on ramp this day with special yellow nose art “Hulu-Catch 22” in honor of the new Hulu TV series; (17) the 1944 B-17G-110-VE Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady”, down from the Yankee Air Museum, at Willow Run Airport, in Yipsilanti, Michigan, and doing revenue flights all day today at $450 per person; and (18) a museum 1942 Grumman TBM-3E Navy “Avenger” torpedo bomber;
On the restricted but adjacent FBO ramp was: (19) the US Army “Golden Knights” new jump plane, the DeHaviland of Canada, now Bombardier Aerospace, DHC-8, “Dash-8”; (20) next to it was a F/A-18F Super Hornet of the US Navy TACAIR Super Hornet Demo Team from VFA-106, the “Gladiators”, up from NAS Oceana, “250” nose, no markings; (21) next to it a second F/A-18F Super Hornet, “AD” tail, “211” nose; in front of the FBO hanger was: (22) Jack Klatt’s Airshows Jack Links “Scream’in Sasquatch” Jet Waco 1929 Taperwing red and black aerobatic bi-wing with a radial prop engine and a jet engine strapped to its belly; also (23) Jack Klatt’s red 2001 Extra 330L aerobatic mono wing stunt plane; Klatt also brought a support plane, (24). a twin-engine Beech Baron; next (25) Matt Chapman’s bright yellow mono-wing Embry-Riddle Extra 330-LX stunt plane; (26) then, David Windmiller’s Zivco Edge 540 Mono-wing stunt plane; (27) Sean D. Tucker’s red Oracle Challenger III bi-wing; (28) Jessy Panzer’s Extra 330L red mono-wing; and (29) Aaron Fitzgerald’s MBB Bo 105 Red Bull aerobatic stunt helicopter.
And now back to the Museum ramp: (30) a visiting red 1941 Waco UPF-7 bi-wing; (31) a 1962 Republic F-105 Thunderchief (MS); (32) a Republic F-84 Thunderjet (MS); (33) a Republic RF-84F Thunderstreak (MS); (34) a Republic RF-84 Thunderflash (MS); (35) a visiting light brown 1941 Mitsubushi A6M2 Reisen Zero; (36) a visiting 1940 Supermarine Spitfire-1A RAF P9374; (37) a P-51C Red Tail Mustang hanging in the museum hanger (MS); (38) a USCG SAR Sikorsky MH-60T Demo Jayhawk out of Cape Cod that refueled at the FBO ramp; (39) a 1944 P-51D Mustang “Jacqueline” N51HR silver with invasion stripes; (40) a private red helo for the Golden Knights to ferry them back from the Beach; (41) a 1942 Curtiss-Wright P-40N Warhawk “American Dream” in olive drab colors; (42) a Nike Hercules 2nd Stage Missile; (43) a Nike Ajax 2nd Stage Missile; (44-49) six SNJ-2 grey WW2 Texans with the Skytypers based at the south end but landing and taking off in front of the Museum ramp.
So round it off and call it 50 airplanes, all really up close at Republic. I’d say that was a better deal than roasting on the sand at Jones Beach! See you next year, maybe on the Beach!