The 2015 New York Air Show – The First of Many


Newburgh New York’s Stewart International Airport was the venue of the inaugural New York Air Show. Presented just 71 days after the Coney Island air show was cancelled, this event drew tens of thousands of spectators over a sun-drenched weekend. A series of high-profile events, including a Statue of Liberty flyover by Air Force F-22 and F-16 fighters (and photographed in the air from a B-25 Mitchell bomber), brought the curious public to the former Air Defense Command air base some 30 miles north of New York City.

Warbird activity at this show brought together a mix of both familiar and a few seldom seen aircraft in the northeastern U.S..

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In the air, one highly visible and hard working warbird was Larry Kelley’s Panchito, a B-25J bomber which is a key part of the DAV Flight Team. According to the DAV (Disabled American Veterans), their mission is: “Fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. We are dedicated to a single purpose: empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity”. The Mitchell bomber was in the air almost as much as it was on the ground during the few days leading up to the air show, offering rides to media representatives to help “spread the word” about the DAV. Several military veterans flew also, and the aircraft had its tail gun assembly removed to become the perch for the photography of the Air Force jets over Lady Liberty on Thursday before the show. Of course, the crew flew a sparkling flight demonstration during the weekend shows too, showing off open bomb bay doors and making a pair of very satisfying photo passes for the crowd. Watch for a first-person account of what it’s like to fly aboard this B-25 here in ClassicWarbirds in an upcoming post!

An Air Force Heritage Flight was an attraction that included something out of the ordinary. First founded in 1997 by the Air Force, the civilian Foundation was formed at the end of 2010 to perpetuate the practice of teaming current Air Force jet fighters with warbirds from the past. Tommy Williams flew Comanche Fighters LLC’s P-51K Mustang Fragile but Agile alongside Major John “Taboo” Cummings in the F-22A Raptor. The seldom seen -K version is essentially a P-51D that was built in Dallas TX, originally equipped with an Aeroproducts propeller. Tommy has an Air Force jet fighter and airline pilot background, as is experienced enough to be part of the handful of civilians that are authorized to fly rare warbirds like the P-51K in formations with current jet fighters.

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Larry Labriola flew an aerobatic display in his L-39C Albatross jet trainer; his Reno Air Races #7 was emblazoned on the fuselage. The Geico Skytypers supplied copious amounts of smoke and thunder to the show in their SNJ-2s modified with computerized smoke systems.


On the ground, further warbird participation included the American Airpower Museum’s combat veteran C-47 Dakota on Saturday, an additional L-39C Albatross in eye-catching arctic camouflage, a rare UH-1B Huey helicopter, and an additional SNJ – longtime air show veteran Thunder Pussy, once part of the Six of Diamonds team. A bright red Fairchild 24 Argus, owned by Sean and Susan Neal, was painted to represent a Rehoboth Beach, Delaware-based Coastal Patrol subchaser aircraft used for anti-submarine patrol during World War II. The aircraft is receiving bomb racks under the fuselage too; many civilian-turned-warplanes were equipped with one or two 100 pound bombs underneath as they carried out inshore patrols during the war.

One disappointment was the cancellation of the Horsemen P-51 aerobatic team shortly before the show, but the variety of warbirds more than made up for that void. Better news is that tickets for the 2016 show – yes, planning for next year’s event is already in motion – went on sale the moment the inaugural 2015 show ended!

Many thanks go out to Cathy Bassett and Phillip Marro of the New York Air Show for their work for allowing our photographers and writer gain outstanding access to the show’s events.

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