This weekend’s Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach could be the biggest yet, organizers of the annual aerobatic demonstration cheered Friday.
Standing under a picturesque blue sky amid the hum of civilian and military planes circling from way above for a rehearsal run, New York State park officials said this weekend’s generous forecast, combined with a star-studded cast of pilots, could portend record-breaking attendance of 400,000-plus guests.
“It’s a great way to honor our military veterans,” George Gorman, deputy regional director of NYS Parks for the Long Island region, told a few dozen onlookers and media gathered on the beach’s famous boardwalk.
The two-day event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will for the first time in the show’s 13-year history feature three jet teams, most notably the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Rounding out the all-star jet trio are Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds and France’s Breitling Jet Team.
Also performing draw-dropping maneuvers over the Atlantic will be the Farmingdale-based GEICO Skytypers, the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team and legendary aerobatic performer, Sean D. Tucker.
Jim Record, who leads the fleet of Skytypers, said it’s always special to come back home to perform in front of friends and family.
The squad typically performs 16 shows annually, and they’ve done so at every air show at Jones Beach since its inception.
Navy Lt. Joe Hontz of the Blue Angels said gracing the skies on Memorial Day is a great way to honor those “who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The air show is an economic boon for the state, with the parks department estimating the performance bringing in $13 million throughout the weekend.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited Jones Beach in advance of the show to highlight revitalization projects, including the $16 million restoration of the West Bathhouse, a more robust food and drink selection, and planned construction of the East and Central Malls.
Organizers’ boasts that this air show could surpass all previous years in terms of attendance may not be hyperbole when you consider the hundreds who swarmed the beach Friday for the less-attended, but equally impressive, rehearsal.
The summer-like weather inspired Long Islanders to dust off their bathing suits, coolers and beach chairs to enjoy a day in the sun.
Forecasters are calling for mostly sunny skies Saturday and Sunday, with the mercury topping off at 88 and 81 degrees, respectively.
Memorial Day barbecues on Monday could be interrupted by some unwelcome showers before 2 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Revelers can expect mostly cloudy skies throughout the day, with a high near 76.