Jones Beach, NY Air Show 2012
If there was ever a natural area to have an air show, it’s Long Island, NY - in particular Nassau and Suffolk counties. The treeless, flat geography of the Hempstead Plains provided early aviators with ideal flying fields. By the early nineteen hundreds, Long Island had become the center of the aviation world - attracting flyers from America and Europe alike. The area saw many historic records being set including the first transcontinental flight in 1911 and Charles Lindbergh's 1927 non-stop transatlantic flight from Roosevelt Field to Paris.
For the ninth straight year, in the natural setting of beach grass, sand dunes and ocean of Jones Beach State Park, The Bethpage Credit Union and local sponsors have hosted a first class air show. As the U.S. Army Golden Knights jump brought the colors of two nations to show center, Snowbird #10 Captain Scott Greenfield sang the Canadian National Anthem followed by announcer Larry Rudd singing the U.S. National Anthem. Wayne Boggs air-bossed the show with aircraft staged at nearby Republic Airport. First on the roster was a “History on Parade” of American Airpower Museum; P-40, P-47, B-25, T-6, P-51, TBM Avenger, FG-1D and L-39. Making multiple passes, the Warbirds were accompanied by the Yankee Air Museum’s B-17 "Yankee Lady". The big WW-II bomber reminded the impressed crowd of a time when these gallant warriors once flew from nearby Mitchell Field.
The flying continued with local aviator David Windmiller, Matt Chapman and the awesomely powerful F/A-18 Super Hornet. By 12:30pm The Canadian Forces Snowbirds eight-ship formation graced the Jones Beach sky for the second time in three years. Early show attendees were treated to two exhibitions by the team. Both days the Snowbirds practiced with a nine-ship formation one hour prior to show opening. The NYANG 106th RQS (Search & Rescue) “Perfect Storm” local heroes made their annual appearance to an appreciative audience along with Farmingdale, NY based GEICO Skytypers. The F-22 Raptor wowed the crowd with another incredible demo while John Klatt, Ed Hamill, Matt Chapman and Sean D. Tucker each executed thrilling performances. The old flew with the new when the P-51 and F-22 joined for the Air Force Heritage Flight on Saturday and, the Corsair linked with the F/A-18 for the Navy Legacy Flight on Sunday. For the fifth year, the US Navy Blue Angels have head-lined the show. Due to rain and heavy fog Thursday and Friday, the Blues had no chance to practice- but it did not show! They were near flawless both days. During the show Sunday, recognizing the area’s historical contribution to aviation, Senator Chuck Schumer declared May as Aviation Month in New York.
With perfect weather all weekend, the show drew another record crowd of 400,000. The promoters are looking forward to making history again next year when the show will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
A Bit More History
During World War One, Army aviators were trained on aircraft built by Long Island based Curtiss, Sikorsky, and Fairchild. During World War Two, Grumman and Republic dominated Long Island aircraft building. The majority of Japanese planes shot down in the pacific theater were done so by Grumman aircraft. Republic built over 15,000 P-47 Thunderbolts. By 1945 over 100,000 locals worked in the aviation industry. As jet-power developed in the 1940s and 1950s; Grumman produced the Panther, Tiger and Intruder for the Navy, while Republic produced the Thunderjet and Thunderchief for the Air Force. All saw service in Korea and Vietnam. In the 1970s and 1980s, after building the Lunar module for the Apollo program, Grumman lead naval aircraft production with the E-2C Hawkeye and F-14 Tomcat. In the 1970s Republic produced the A-10 Thunderbolt-II Tank Killer. Although Long Island manufacturers no longer build airplanes to their entirety, today many companies continue to produce parts for a wide variety of aircraft.
Story by: Daniel O. Myers
Photos by: Howard German