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Bethpage Air Show Lifts Off On Memorial Day For First Time In Event's History

JONES BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The ever-popular Bethpage Air Show took place on Memorial Day at Jones Beach.

It was held after rainy and dreary weather cancelled the show on both Saturday and Sunday, CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reported.

As the United States Air Force Thunderbirds flipped and members of the Army Golden Knights Parachute Team jumped, thousands of people marveled at the magnificence of military planes and members during the show.

"I like the Thunderbirds because they're just fun and exciting to see," one person said.

"I love when the parachutes come out," Brianna Sullivan added.

Other highlights of Monday's show included tricks and trips by the Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt and the GEICO Skytypers.

The performances were showstoppers and crowd pleasers.

Amanda Bennett from Long Island said for her son, Michael, watching the planes was inspiring.

"He hopes to serve in the military when he's older and be a fighter pilot. He loves the jets and the Thunderbirds," Bennett said.

Because the weather cancelled the show over weekend, this was actually the first year the show was held on Memorial Day since it began in 2004.

Organizers say when the Thunderbirds offered to do their performance on Monday instead, they jumped at the chance.

"We're coming out of the pandemic, and New York has gone through more than any other state," said George Gorman, regional director of New York State Parks. "It was important to have the air show... And when there was a mention by the United States Thunderbirds that they would stay, we got right on the phone. The New York air traffic controllers, they said 'yes' right away. The FAA approved it right away. All of the agencies involved without a hesitation they said, 'yes we'll be there, same commitment, same resources.' So that is amazing, and that is great for Long Island and New York residents."

The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, said the air show means as much to them as it does to the attendees, so they weren't going to give up a chance to fly.

"We represent all the airmen who are currently serving both in the U.S. and deployed around the world in the defense of our freedoms, and that includes all our brothers and sisters who have fallen during that fight, so it's an absolute honor to fly," Capt. Katie Moorkamp said.

Organizers say because the event wasn't possible last year due to the pandemic, it was more important than ever to go on with the show this year.

And many people said having the event on Memorial Day gives it even more meaning.

"We wanted to be here to show our gratitude for the troops what they do for us, what it means to be an American and how proud we are and thankful for everything they do," Meghan Sullivan said.

"At the end of the day, we are here because of our freedom and the men and women who fought so hard for us," Kerry Eslinger added.

For these New Yorkers, there was no better way for them to spend their Memorial Day than to celebrate and honor those who serve.

CBS2's Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.


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