Bethpage Airshow 2023 for


Article by Daniel O. Myers, photos by Kevin Burke

Prior to each air show season, fans have anxiously anticipated the new year’s show schedule. In the past, one could always count on certain sites for consistently hosting an event. But, with continuing budget concerns and military cutbacks, a lot of those venues no longer have annual shows. Consistency had turned to uncertainty. Since it’s 2006 inception, the Jones Beach, NY Bethpage Airshow has delivered consistency. For eighteen years, this annual Memorial Day Weekend show has always honored those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives for our freedom in the defense of our nation.

With Air Boss Wayne Boggs controlling the show’s flying operations and Rob Reider announcing, the U. S. Army’s Parachute Team opened the beach show with their American Flag and National Anthem jump. In 1961, the Golden Knights become and still remain the U.S. Army’s only official demonstration team. Their team name, “Golden Knights,” honors the numerous competition gold medals they have won while “Knights” refers to world champions who have conquered the skies.

Every year the show recognizes the nearby SUNY Aviation Center at Farmingdale State College. Commencing the flying, in a racetrack flight path, were five recent graduates of the Professional Pilot Program and now employed by the College as Flight Instructors. The College owns twenty-two aircraft and awards BS degrees in Aeronautical Science, Professional Pilot, and Aviation Administration.


As the college fliers departed, Farmingdale’s American Airpower Museum Warbirds took to the racetrack. These Legends of Airpower saluted our veterans as well as Long Island’s historic role in the nation’s WWII “Arsenal of Democracy.”

Also from nearby Republic Field, performing every year at Jones Beach, are the Skytypers Airshow Team. For the past twenty years the team, consisting of five highly experienced pilots flying North American SNJ WWII advanced training aircraft, have flown shows throughout the country. Their performance paid tribute to the history of the aircraft and the precise tactical maneuvers taught to military aviators. When not performing at air shows, the team types billboard messages in the sky that can extend up to eight miles in length and can be seen from up to fifteen miles in any direction.

Also flying the North American SNJ Texan was the Warbird Thunder Airshows. Consisting of two former GEICO Skytypers, Chris “CT” Thomas and Mike “Buick” Eberhardt, performing an exciting 12-minute routine of; formation loops, aileron and barrel rolls, Cuban Eights and opposing maneuvers.

The spectators were entertained by other civilian aerobatic flying: Ed Hamill and his “Folds of Honor” bi-plane, Mike Goulian in an Extra 330 and David Windmiller flying the Zivko Edge 540- based at Republic Airport in Farmingdale.


The crowd’s excitement got cranked up when the U.S. military took center stage in their high-performance jets. First up was the USMC F-35B, the world’s first short-takeoff, vertical landing (STOVL) 5th generation fighter. Performing were East Coast team pilots, Major Zachary “Cricket” Ybarra and Major Nate “Bobbit” Keegan, from VMFAT-501- the “Warlords” stationed at MCAS Beaufort, SC. VMFAT-501 is one of the Marine Corps’ F-35B Fleet Replacement Squadrons, tasked with training Fighter/Attack Fleet Pilots.

Making high-speed passes, the aerial presentation showcased the aircraft’s conventional mode of flight, then slowed to exhibit it’s short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) characteristics. The F-35B has a Lift Fan just behind the cockpit. As the vertical fan spins up; doors open above and below the jet’s fuselage while the engine’s swivel-duct nozzles down to 90 degrees. At show center; with wheels extended, fan-doors open and the engine swivel-duct pointed down, the F-35B hovered over the ocean below. The crowd was enthralled!


The audience was taken by complete surprise when from behind and in tight formation, two USN F/A-18G “Vikings,” from VAQ-129 NAS Whidbey Island, WA rocketed to show center in full afterburner. The two, in tandem arrangement , made multiple aggressive passes before separating and flying opposing to one another, in simulated dogfight. The F/A-18Gs then joined again in tight alignment before splitting apart and rejoining multiple times, all in full afterburner. Their high-energy demonstration charged the crowd!

All attention was directed forward when a Coast Guard Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk MEDEVAC-Capable helicopter performed a Search and Rescue demonstration. The aircrew, from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, consisted of two pilots, one flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer. These dedicated professionals stand watch twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year staying true to their motto, “Semper Paratus,” or “Always Ready.”


The assembled beach-goers waited in anxious anticipation for the day’s final act- The USAF Thunderbirds. The team, in their highly-polished patriotic F-16s, flew a precise demo with multiple afterburner passes and several sneak attacks that thrilled the spectators.

352,000 patrons attended the 2023 Bethpage Jones Beach Air Show. Building on eighteen years of success, if consistency is the key to longevity, the Jones Beach Air Show should be entertaining audiences well into the future.

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