A year after being cancelled at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 2021 Bethpage Federal Credit Union Airshow at Jones Beach will be returning to the skies May 29th and 30th. While the cancelation of last year’s airshow was disappointing, it was nothing close to what many in our community endured personally, financially and from a health perspective. Just one year ago, many were unsure when or even if things would return to normal. The return of the show this year shows just how far we have come in the last 14 months. While the announcement of the 2021 Jones Beach Airshow was exciting news, most knew that this year’s event would be much more meaningful than prior events. It is perhaps the most important show ever since its start.
“The Bethpage Federal Credit Union Airshow at Jones Beach has been Long Islands most well thought of and most attended event for some time now,” stated George Gorman, Long Island Regional Director for New York State Parks. To bring it back for 2021 given what the community, as well as each of us individually, has gone thorough over the past year is both imperative and inspiring. The Memorial Day weekend airshow will be the largest attended event in the Northeast in more than one year. This despite the 50% cap on capacity for this year’s show. “Given the significance of proceeding with this year’s event during the COVID pandemic, it is important that we do it safe and do it right,” remarks Gorman.
With the cancellation of the 2020 show amidst the height of the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement of the shows return for 2021 in early April was a sign of the continued progress against COVID-19 and progression back to normalcy as we know it. “The return of the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach is one of the latest examples of our work to re-open by putting common-sense measures in place to keep New Yorkers safe,” remarked Governor Cuomo.
For 2021, show organizers worked with heath and safety guidelines that evolved on an almost daily basis. This year’s event will take a slightly different approach towards attendance compared to prior events. “Advanced ticket sales for both show days as well as the practice day Friday, went on sale in April to help with the shows organization given the events limited capacity,” stated Gorman. Advanced tickets are specific for day, parking field and even arrival time to help disperse the flow of traffic. “Ticket holders will need to produce a QR code per car to gain entry to the parking field otherwise you will be turned away and there will be no tickets sold at the beach on the day of,” remarks George Gorman. “In addition, there will be no soliciting on the boardwalk and no stopping on the roadside. New York State Police and Park Police in addition to additional staff will be on hand to help ensure safety.” It is important to note that tickets for all three days of the show are sold out as of the time this article was published.
This year’s show features the return of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, who last headlined the show in 2019. Other military branches are represented with performances by the United States Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt demonstration team, The United States Army Golden Knights parachute team as well as the Coast Guard’s search and rescue demo. Civilian performances include demonstrations from Long Island own American Airpower Museum, The GEICO Skytypers, David Windmiller and world renowned Michael Goulian. The 2021 show will take place Friday, May 28 (practice day), Saturday, May 29, and Sunday, May 30, from 10AM-3PM each day.
In addition to the return of some of the airshow industry’s top performers, new for 2021 will be the first ever live streamed Bethpage Airshow at Jones Beach. “Bethpage Federal Credit Union, New York State Parks and WABC have partnered with LiveairshowTV in an effort to live stream Saturday’s show for the community to watch the excitement from their own home,” states George Gorman. This will help provide spectators who cannot or choose not to attend the opportunity to watch from the comfort of their own home. The show can be viewed live on Saturday (rain date Sunday) by visiting www.abc7ny.com, as well as WABC TV’s connected TV apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku.
While many are excited for this year’s event as aviation fans, others are happy purely at the return to some normalcy within the community. The COVID 19 pandemic has clearly been one of the most impactful events of our lifetime. The return of this year’s show marks a major turning point for everyone within the community whether they plan to attend, watch it on livestream or neither. While I wish I could say I am excited for this year’s show as an aviation enthusiast, the significance of its return this Memorial Day Weekend is clearly much greater as it represents New York winning the battle against COVID, a return to normalcy and things to come.