Pilots Prepare To Wow Crowds At Bethpage Air Show On Jones Beach

BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The annual Bethpage Air Show is ready to wow crowds at Jones Beach this Memorial Day weekend.

As CBS’s Vanessa Murdock reports, the people who saw Friday’s rehearsal got quite the show.

They dip, flip, twist and never disappoint.

“It’s amazing what they do,” spectator Bob Parson said.

“We’re here every year. They’re very good,” another added.

This will be the 14th annual Bethpage Air Show.

“It’s the kick off of summer, it’s the kick off of the Jones Beach season,” State Parks spokesman George Gorman Jr. said. 

This year, performers include the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. Captain Erik Gonsalves is an advanced pilot and says the team trains for hundreds of hours from the middle of October through the middle of March to prepare for the weekend.

“Just an honor to represent America’s Air Force, come out here. We have 20,000 guys deployed, and gals deployed, right so just to come out here and represent them to the great people of New York is my true honor,” he told Murdock.

Captain Angela Urbina says the maneuvers represent the precision of the U.S. Air Force.

“You can expect to see formation flying at its finest,” she said. “High speed loops, rolls, head on passes going about 500 to 700 miles per hour.”

Also performing this weekend are members of the Army’s Golden Knights skydiving team.

“These guys have a lot of courage and are very brave to do what they do,” Parson said.

This is Long Island’s chance to show their support and say thank you, says Gorman.

“As everyone knows, the military are the backbone of our democracy, and we are so appreciative for the service that they give,” he said.

“It was such a great way to honor the military, as well as show the public, show the park visitors, what the military is capable of,” he added.

It’s also the military’s chance to strut its stuff.

“It’s a very exciting, riveting show,” Urbina said.

“Hope you come out and see the show,” another service member added.

One onlooker said she remembers a time when the holiday was more solemn.

“Years ago, if you were out anywhere at a certain time during the day, everybody had to stand still for a minute to pay respects,” she told D’Auria.

It runs Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking costs $10.

Make sure to get there early. In the past, as many as 200,000 people have packed Jones Beach each day for the event.