Road trip: Get ready for the New York Air Show, July 1-2

C-17 Globemaster III, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
C-17 Globemaster III, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
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By Jeff Sovelove

At Thursday’s preview of this weekend’s New York Air Show, we met Lt. Lance Benson of the US Navy’s Blue Angels.

He’s the pilot of Blue Angel #4, a two-seat version of the F/A-18A.

 Lt. Lance Benson with his aircraft, at the  New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Lt. Lance Benson with his aircraft, at the New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.

Benson, 33, explained that pilots rotate out about every two years, with the enlisted personnel rotating about every three- to four years. This keeps everyone fresh, and averts complacency.

“It takes about 1200 – 1250 hours in the Super Hornet to qualify to apply for the team,” said the McPherson, KS, native, who joined the Navy in 2006.

Slideshow photos by Jeff Sovelove

Blue Angels dive at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Navy Blue Angels in formation at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
The Blue Angels in perfect formation at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
The Navy Blue Angels arrive at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
A Blue Angel darts across the sky at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
The Navy Blue Angels team at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Geico Skytyper, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
A Geico Skytyper at the New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
The Geico Skytypers arrive in their vintage T-6 Texan aircraft, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
C-17 Globemaster III, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
A C-17 Globemaster III comes in for a landing at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Lt. Lance Benson with his aircraft, at the New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Blue Angel at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
The Blue Angels will fly at the New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Lt. Lance Benson and his F18 at the New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
F/A 18A Blue Angels fighter at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Blue Angels' F/A-18 Hornet, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
A C-17 close up, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Lt. Cols. Mark Cotton and Rich Carter of the C-17 demo team, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
C-17 nose art, a tradition that dates back to WWII, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Honoring the fallen, at the New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
A C-17 cargo plane, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Inside a C-17 cargo plane at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
C-17 cockpit, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Cavernous interior of C-17, at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
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2017 NY Air Show Media Day (38) - Blue Angels dive at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
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The planes flown by the team are 30- to 35 years old. The Navy expects to replace them with Super Hornets about 2021 or after.

“My absolute favorite thing about being on the team is the camaraderie,” said Benson, who became a Blue Angel in September 2015. “Everyone here wants to be here and they’re the best at what they do.”

The Navy Blue Angels arrive at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
The Navy Blue Angels arrive at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.

We also visited with pilots of the C-17 Globemaster III demonstration team. They’re the only Air National Guard C-17 demo team on the east coast, and do three or four shows a year.

The C-17 is the second biggest cargo plane in US service, and is capable of carrying an M1 Abrams tank, armored vehicles, or a mobile hospital unit. It can deploy on flights as long as 24 hours if needed.

The New York Air Show is scheduled for Stewart International Airport, near Newburgh, NY, on July 1-2, 2017.  Tickets are $22.50 for adults and $11.25 for children aged 6-12.

Blue Angels dive at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Blue Angels dive at New York Air Show preview, June 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
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