The Jones Beach Air Show (aka Bethpage Air Show) is coming up this Memorial Day weekend. On May 27th and 28th, military aircrafts, civilian jet teams, and aerobatic pilots will take to the skies on Long Island's south shore.
I moved an hour east of New York City for a new job last year. Since then, I've been living about 20 minutes away from Jones Beach on Long Island. The Air Show was my first major introduction to my new location. And it was quite the spectacle.
This post marks my 1 year anniversary since landing my first "real" post-graduate job. This post also marks 1 year since living solo for the first time. I've been loving every minute of my new life! So it's about time I take a break from writing about Hawaii to introduce a local highlight.
Why An Air Show?
For 14 years, the Air Show at Jones Beach has kicked off the summer for New Yorkers on Long Island.
The Air Show is the first major, crowd-drawing weekend of the sunbathing season. Hundreds of thousands of visitors from the New York City metro area and beyond pour in. So be sure to arrive earlier than the 12pm start time. Parking lots are often filled by 11am. The show ends at 5pm.
Held on Memorial Day weekend, the two-day show also serves as an ode to those who died in wars past. Inevitably, there are lots of military- and aviation-related vendors and booths.
You can speak to national guard recruiters, explore the inside of a grounded helicopter, or hop around a NASA bouncy house.
I loved looking out across the hoards of people in beach wear under colorful umbrellas. Children were scampering around bumping into things with their gaze fixated upward.
Overall, it feels great to be outside soaking in Vitamin D after a long, grey New York winter.
Air Show Cost and Entry
All typical beach-related equipment is welcome at the show—blankets, chairs, coolers for drinks and snacks. Keep in mind that upon entry bags and packs are checked. With crowds like this, it's important and welcomed that security measures are in place.
The Air Show is completely admission-free. However, your vehicle will be charged $10 for parking. This is standard for Jones Beach parking in the summers.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, most Long Island beaches will charge you for parking.
Minimize cost by car-pooling! But I feel like $10 is a completely reasonable parking fee for an otherwise free and fabulous show.
Some businesses and families purchase $250 VIP tickets to the show. The Jones Beach VIP Chalet includes private beachfront viewing, catered breakfast, buffet lunch, beverage service, and private restrooms. That's Long Island for you! There are definitely some upper-class, eastern Long Islanders here who would jump on this VIP service. And they hardly bat an eye at the price tag.
Air Show Food
There's plenty of food to keep you snacking happily as you watch the sky-streaked stunts.
Take along your own drinks and snacks. Otherwise, there is a fast-food restaurant at the eastern end of the beach. Refreshments are sold all along the boardwalk.
Food vendors mostly sell typical American fair food. Beef jerky and grilled corn were two of the more unusual foods I saw.
Blue Angels or Thunderbirds
Two formal flying aerobatic teams alternate as headliners every other year.
The United States Navy Blue Angels is the second oldest aerobatic squadron in the world. They formed in 1946. I had the pleasure of seeing the Blue Angels at last year's show.
The aircrafts' guns are removed and replaces with smoke-oil tanks. This smoke-oil forms the streaks across the sky.
The stunts the Blue Angels pull could make them fall unconscious. To prevent this, they tense their muscles to keep the blood from going to their heads while upside down.
This year, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds will perform. Formed in 1953, the Thunderbirds are the third oldest aerobatic squadron.
The Thunderbirds often fly at about 500-700mph, just under the speed of sound.
Solo Stunt Pilots
My favorite part of the air show was the solo pilots who did tricks and stunts.
These pilots have to be in pique physical shape to pull off their aerial acrobatics. It's truly ravaging to the body.
But they did some of the most unbelievable stunts—like shutting off the engine mid air and free falling. What?!
I can't wait to see Sean Tucker and John Klatt at this year's show!
The United States Army Golden Knights were at last year's show. They are a demonstration and competition parachute team.
They do air formations in various geometric shapes and then parachute solo the rest of the way to the ground.
All along, they use smoke canisters to mark their path. For the air show I saw, they used red smoke. It's definitely a crowd-pleasing effect!
Friday Practice Day
Can't make the actual air show on Saturday or Sunday? You can check out the practice show on the Friday before.
Head to Jones Beach around noon on Friday to observe the air show rehearsal. You'll see near perfect stunts and formations among a smaller crowd.
This year's practice Friday is on May 26th.
Air Show Radio Broadcast
Anticipating the 2017 Air Show
I never knew how much I would enjoy watching an air show until I went to the Jones Beach Air Show last year. I loved lying on the sand, camera in hand, watching and hearing all the planes swooshing by.
I can't wait to take my cousin to see the show in two weeks!
The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach will be one of the first stops.