REPUBLIC AIRPORT – THE OTHER LONG ISLAND AIR SHOW!
Jones Beach, on the Ocean in Long Island near New York City, just had its big Memorial Day Weekend Air Show on Saturday and Sunday, May 26th and 27th, 2018. The Jones Beach air show was officially called the “15th Anniversary Bethpage Air Show” not only in honor of the duration of the air show and the sponsor, but also in honor of the great aviation industry that was based around Bethpage, Long Island, that no longer exists – the great Grumman Aircraft Company that had its main engineering, production and testing facility at the Bethpage Airport, now defunct, (and best known for the mighty F-14 “Tomcat” Navy fighter), and the equally famous Republic Aviation Corporation, originally known as the Seversky Aircraft Company, later known as Fairchild-Republic, based at the Farmingdale, Long Island, airport, now called Republic Airport, (and best known now for the A-10 “Warthog” or “Hog”, still widely used today and still seeing a lot of combat time in Southwest Asia). Fairchild-Republic ceased operations in 1987 after the A-10 production line ended in 1984 that ran from 1972 to 1984 with 716 Hogs built at Republic. An attempt to market the dual-engined Fairchild T-46 “Eaglet” jet trainer to the USAF failed in the 1980’s with only three T-46’s being produced at the Republic plant and was finally cancelled in 1986. The T-46 was going to be the plane to save Fairchild-Republic. Hundreds of T-46’s would have been built for the USAF at the Republic plant right here at the Republic Airport in Farmingdale, LI. That was never to happen. Fairchild, now the owner of Republic Aircraft, ceased all future design and production work at Republic and sold off the Plant in 1987. In 1988 the huge Republic plant at the north end of the airport was sold off to a developer to become a major shopping center. Only one Republic building was saved – a WW2 hanger that is now home to the American Airpower Museum with over 20 static and flying WW2 and Cold War combat airplanes.
Republic Airport is still a very busy General Aviation airport. For the last 15 years it has become famous for being the take-off airport on Memorial Day Weekend for most of the aircraft and flight demonstration teams that participate in the Jones Beach Air Show, and this year was certainly no exception. The 2018 Over-The-Beach “International” Air Show had quite a collection of Teams and aircraft this year including: the United States Navy “Blue Angels” Flight Demonstration Squadron; the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) “Snowbirds”; the US Army “Golden Knights” Parachute Team; Sean D. Tucker and his bright orange Oracle Challenger III biplane; Lt. Col. (Ret) John Klatt and his “Screamin’ Sasquatch” prop and jet powered black and red Waco Taperwing bi-plane; the world-famous GEICO “Skytypers” Airshow Team as a squadron of six WW2-era US Navy grey SNJ-2 (T-6) Texan trainers, based right here at the Republic Airport, originally known for their skywriting 6-ship line abreast series of computer controlled smoke “dots” to write out words at 5,000 feet and now known for their daring formation flying with the delta, diamond and opposing solo military simulated air combat maneuvering demonstrations. (Sad News: On Wednesday, May 30th, the pilot of Skytyper No. 6 [N62382, BuNo 2039], Ken Johnson, 52, a commercial airline Captain and a retired ex-Navy fighter pilot, of Doylestown, PA, was killed in a fiery crash 3 miles from Republic Airport, while departing on Wednesday with the Team to head down to the Pax River Air Show for the coming weekend. Observers and video tape show the plane suffering some sort of problem on the departure climb out at a few thousand feet then spiraling straight down and breaking apart in flight, nearly missing homes in a residential area in Mellville, LI, 3 miles from the airport, before crashing in flames. NTSB is now investigating the cause of the mishap. PhotoRecon extends its deepest sympathies to the family of the pilot and the entire Skytyper Team.)
Other scheduled performers included a Langley F-22 “Raptor” demo and a Heritage Flight with a Warbird from the American Airpower Museum; David Windmiller and his blue Zivko Edge 540 aerobatic mono-wing; a flyover of student aircraft from the Aviation Center at the State University of New York (SUNY) State College at Farmingdale, LI; Matt Chapmann with his Extra 330LX tandem 2-seat aerobatic low wing monoplane; the 106th Rescue Wing (106RQW), NYANG, out of Gabrieski ANGB in West Hampton, LI, with a flyover with an HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helo from the 101st Rescue Squadron and a HC-130P Hercules Tanker from the 102nd Rescue Squadron doing a refueling demo and a over-water para rescue drop and swimmer recovery demo; and finally a number of vintage WW2 Warbird flyovers from the American Airpower Museum at the nearby Republic Airport.
Republic Airport was the takeoff point for just about everybody in the show. I think the best place to watch it all up close and personal was at the American Air Power Museum ramp where all the flying warbirds in the show were prepped, towed around and took off into the wind from the northwest from Runway 19 right next to the Museum ramp or even from 14 not too far away. The 11 Canadian Snowbirds were staging at the near-by old Control Tower FBO Hanger. The Golden Knights Fokker C-31A jump plane was positioned right next to the museum ramp. The stunt planes worked out of the old tower hanger also right next door. The Blues were out by the Main Terminal near the new FAA Control Tower that offered better security but really hard to see from the museum ramp. The Skytypers based out of their own hanger far to the east by by Runway 01, also too far to see much. And the B-25 “Miss Hap” from the AAM and the B-17G “Lucky Lady” from the Yankee Air Museum out of Willow Run Airport in Michigan were offering paying group rides and were loading up right at the museum ramp. I thought the best spot to see most of the planes, especially at takeoff, was right at the edge of the museum ramp. However, as is the case every year, there were a few thousand spectators that disagreed with me. These guys in their cars and trucks ringed both sides of the perimeter road along the east side of Runway 14-32. It was like being at a football game parking lot: the cars had tailgate parties going on with food and drinks, blankets on the roofs of cars and in the truck beds of their F-150’s, food trucks, and even a large flat bed truck with gigantic speakers blasting out Classic Rock and the music from “Top Gun”. I thought I even saw Tom Cruise having a Coors Light! And these guys were all rewarded when the Blues did their burner return arrival cross-over carrier break right on top of them in their Return To Land approach and later landed from the northwest down the longer 7,000 foot runway, doing a slow taxi east along the crowd line, and taxied to the extreme east end at 32 right up against the fence line where most of the cars were. I mean, this was really close, with the F/A-18 Hornet wing tips being about five feet from the fence line and the cars and then they even held there for a while so the shooters could get their best shots! The free-loaders really got their money’s worth Saturday! Sunday it rained hard and the show was cancelled!!!
The Museum ramp included all the aircraft that flew in the Air Show except for the for the 106th RQW and the SUNY planes that staged out of their own LI airports. The F-22, if it showed up at the Beach, also probably staged remotely. Some additional planes on the ramp were Permnant Static (PS) and some were Flyable Static (FS) and some were in the hanger (H). Here’s the inventory: The Golden Knights Fokker C-31A Troopship jump plane (a modified F27 Friendship airliner); the Boeing B-17G-110-YE “Yankee Lady” WW2 bomber from the Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilante, Michigan, doing paying group rides; a General Dynamics F-111 “Aardvark” fighter in SEA colors (PS); a Republic F-105 Thunderchief in SEA colors (PS); a Cessna O-2B Skymaster “Loud Duck” in SEA colors (FS); a Republic RF-84F Thunderflash in SEA colors (PS); a Republic F-84 “Thunderstreak” with “New York” tail code in SEA colors (PS); the North American gloss metal RB-25 Mitchell bomber “Miss Hap” doing revenue rides; a Fairchild-Republic A-10A “Wart Hog” (PS); a Boeing-Stearman USN N2S-3 Kaydet Model 75 bi-wing trainer (FS); a blue Vought F4U Corsair; Matt Chapman in his yellow Embry-Riddle Extra 330LX mono wing stunt plane; Shawn D. Tucker in his bright orange Oracle Challenger III bi-plane; the silver North American P-51D Mustang “Miss Jacqueline”, recently acquired by the museum to replace the P-47 “Thunderbolt” that crashed into the Hudson River about three years ago killing the museum’s senior pilot; the T-6A Texan “Deb” in USAF gloss silver; the North American AT-28 “Trojan” in a green Viet Nam camo; the North American SNJ-5 Texan “Thunder Pussy” with a cat logo on the nose in USN grey colors with a red tail and a red 02 band; a black helicopter that was being used to ferry the GK jumpers back from the beach making very low inbound approaches over the ramp crowd; a Van’s Aircraft RV-5 mono-wing stunt plane in blue Navy colors; a Curtis-Wright P-40 Warhawk “The Jackie C”; the Jack Link’s / Jack Klatt’s “Scream’in Sasquatch” 1929 Jet Waco Taperwing black and red bi-wing stunt plane; the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron based at 15 Wing near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, with 11 CT-114 Tutor red and white jet trainer aircraft with side-by-side seats, 9 in the Show and 2 spares, parked pretty close to the museum ramp; the Skytypers and the Blues remotely parked until they took off close to the crowd ramp; a Grumman TBM “Avenger” torpedo bomber; the Douglas C-47 “Skytrain” D8 / Z in D-Day camo with Invasion Stripes (FS); a Grumman EA-6B “Prowler” from VAQ-129 (H); a Czech Aero-Vadochody L-39 “Albatross” Soviet jet trainer (FS); a Republic F-84E-15RE ” Thunderjet” in a silver bare metal finish with Lockbourne AFB, Ohio ANG on the side (H); the blue Consolidated PBY-5 “Catalina” undergoing a major re-build in the hanger; and a Van’s Aircraft RV-5 yellow stunt plane (FS).
Yes, it was a great Jones Beach Air Show at Republic Airport Saturday!!! Maybe I’ll try it at the Beach next year!!!