Flying high at Bethpage Air Show
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Also returning to this year’s show, the GEICO Skytypers combine the best of the old and new. The team flies vintage World War II aircraft while utilizing the latest technology to skytype their messages. The pilots fill the sky from all directions to provide spectators with a unique viewing experience while showcasing the tactics and maneuvers utilized during training during World War II.
The GEICO Skytypers use six of the remaining 11 North American SNJ-2 planes left in the world to write messages at an altitude of 10,000 feet. Each plane has been restored and equipped with a computer that coordinates the smoke puffs from the aircraft. The team “types” messages with puffs of smoke in dot matrix-style letters.
“The contrast between the advanced technology to produce the messages paired with a 1940s vintage aircraft is truly unique,” said Steve Kapur, GEICO Skytypers marketing officer and reserve pilot. “We consider it a privilege to fly these warbirds on behalf of GEICO at air shows all across the U.S.,” said Kapur, who has been flying with the team for more than a decade. Most of the GEICO Skytypers pilots earned their wings in the military and several currently fly for commercial airlines.
In a new element in this year’s show, a catamaran will challenge a GEICO Skytypers team member in a high-speed, sea-air duel for sponsorship bragging rights. Tom Daly, GEICO Skytyper #6, who is Dowling College’s Director of Academic and Flight Training Programs, will break away after the team’s performance and attempt to outrun the speedboat in an exhibition race. While the catamaran is capable of higher top speeds than the planes flown by the Skytypers, weather conditions handicap the watercraft and even the odds. Skill and expertise will prove the ultimate victor in this battle.
The crowd-pleasing event is always a big draw, with more than 100,000 people typically showing up each day. Nearly 400,000 spectators attended last year, with similar attendance expected again.
Bethpage Air Show
Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.