Weather slows Bethpage Air Show on Saturday, but hopes soar for Sunday

Most of Saturday’s Bethpage Air Show was canceled due to rain, lightning and low cloud cover, but organizers are encouraged by the prediction of a perfect day at Jones Beach on Sunday for day two a spectacle.

Low clouds delayed the start of the show, but organizers were able to organize a few flights before the cancellation was announced at 12:50 p.m. and spectators were told to leave the beach.

“We must exercise caution to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of park visitors,” State Parks Regional Director George Gorman said, noting that “torrential rain and lightning” arrived shortly. after 1:30 p.m.

Skies threaten Saturday at Jones Beach.
Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The National Weather Service predicts sunny skies for Sunday at Jones Beach, with highs of 71.

“Looks like a great day,” Gorman said. “At this time, nothing we can see will impact the artists.”

Some beachgoers took the cancellation in stride and said they would consider returning on Sunday, when the show is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“It’s disappointing, but it was still fun,” said Joseph Carbone, 40, of Wading River. “We still got to see the Skytypers and the F35s, if only for a short time.”

Organizers had consulted with National Weather Service forecasters on Saturday morning ahead of the scheduled 10 a.m. start time and initially hoped there would be enough weather window to allow the whole show to take place.

A scene from Saturday's air show.

A scene from Saturday’s air show.

Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

But low clouds delayed the first fighter jet flights. The first depiction was of a US Coast Guard helicopter and a four-man sea rescue team that was unaffected by cloud cover.

Shortly before noon, the first fighter jet, an F35C, began to circle the promenade, drawing a long-awaited round of applause from the crowd.

The jet rolled over and made several passes over the water, its burners roaring as it passed.

After the F35C jets, the Geico Skytypers performed their stunts, painting the sky with exhaust trails. The five planes passed each other abreast, swaying back and forth before separating and twisting a trail of smoke into their path.

The Geico Skytypers perform at a weather-shortened Bethpage Air Show in...

The Geico Skytypers perform Saturday at a weather-shortened Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach. The forecast looks better for Sunday’s performance.
Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Skytypers then painted a heart against a newly cleared blue sky and performed stunts to Ray Charles’ version of “America the Beautiful”.

But the blue sky would not last. Some of the most anticipated performances, including those by paratroopers from the US Army’s Blue Angels and Golden Knights, have been canceled.

“The crowd was entertained, but they wanted more,” Gorman said.

Spectators leave the beach before stormy weather sets in.

Spectators leave the beach before stormy weather sets in.
Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Friday’s scheduled practice for the Blue Angels and other performers was also canceled due to dense fog and low cloud.

Saturday was to be the first full-capacity airshow day since 2019. COVID-19 caused the 2020 show to be canceled, and last year’s was at 50% capacity.

Children take care of summer beach activities before Saturday...

The children take care of summer activities on the beach before the start of Saturday’s abbreviated show.
Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Last year was also the first time that the scheduled two days were rainy. Organizers moved the performances to Memorial Day, the first time the show has taken place during the holidays since its debut in 2004.

Gorman said about 32,000 people attended Saturday’s performances and between 100,000 and 150,000 people were expected on Sunday.

Even with the light rain and cool breeze before the show started, beachgoers flocked to Jones Beach waiting for the start.

Kahlel Robinson and Alex Cruz, both of Valley Stream, had seen fighter jets in the new movie “Top Gun: Maverick,” and they came to see the real thing.

Heavy traffic on Meadowbrook State Parkway as people exit Jones...

Heavy traffic on Meadowbrook State Parkway as people drive out of Jones Beach after the cancellation of the Bethpage Air Show on Saturday.
Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Cruz said he hasn’t been to an air show since he was a kid. Speaking after the initial cancellations but before the rest of Saturday’s event was called off, Cruz said he was disappointed.

“I was looking forward to seeing it all,” he said.