By Jeff Sovelove
The growl of piston engines and the roar of jets filled the skies last weekend at the Fifth Annual New York Air Show at Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, NY.
This year there were two headliners: The Navy’s Blue Angels and the UK’s Red Arrows, on their first North American tour in more than a decade.
Spectators had ample time to enjoy static displays including different US aircraft and helicopters, as well as a jet powered go kart capable of hitting 100 mph.
The aerial show started with the US Army’s Golden Knights parachute team. Jumping with the American flag, the jumpers’ feet touched down just as the last notes of the Star Spangled Banner were sung, getting a roar form the crowd.
Then the Red Arrows took to the air, flying their distinctive BAe Hawk Mk 1 aircraft. The British have been flying these planes since 1980, and time their routine with compasses and stopwatches because the aircraft lack heads-up displays and fly-by-wire technology.
Their thrilling formations honored famous vintage planes, including the Lancaster, the Concorde, and the Tornado. One of the formations trailed red, white, and blue smoke — an environmentally friendly mixture approved by the federal EPA.
Slideshow photos by Jeff Sovelove. Click/hover on images for captions:
Next up was Panchito, a fully restored B-25 Mitchell bomber from WWII that made passes over the crowd with its bomb bay doors open to simulate a bombing run. The adventurous could book a ride in Panchito if they brought their checkbook or credit cards; all proceeds go to keep the aircraft flying.
The Geico Skytypers flew their vintage North American T-6/SNJ aircraft, the most widely used American trainer in WWII. The planes’ distinctive rasp, caused by the high tip speed of the propeller combined with the direct-drive engine, is not heard by the pilots.
After that was Mike Chapman in an aircraft sponsored by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Chapman is one of the few pilots to be awarded the top three prizes by the aircraft aerobatics associations.
The New York State Police practiced retrieving a fallen office in their Vietnam-era 1964 Huey II helicopter, which was reconfigured for civilian service after its military days.
Kent Peach performed aerobatics that were especially amazing, considering his 1930s- vintage Interstate Cadet only has 75 horsepower. To top off his act, he landed his Jelly Belly aircraft on a truck speeding down the runway.
The state of the art F-35A Lightning II was up next, performing maneuvers not possible for any other plane, doing inverted roles, square loops, and making a low pass with the weapons bay doors open.
With more than 40,000 pounds of thrust, the F135 engine enables the aircraft to fly straight up.
Mike Wiskus, in his Lucas Oil Pitts Special biplane, and Mike Gulian in his custom-built aerobatic airplane warmed up the crowd for the final performance of the day.
The US Navy Blue Angels closed out the show flying their trademark double delta formations with as little as 18 inches between their wingtips.
They executed low level and inverted formations, thrilling the throng of spectators and making everyone wish that the 2020 air show lands here soon.