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Posts Tagged ‘August 2010’

This is a post on the 2010 air show that was cancelled. Current post on the 2015 New York City Air Show in Coney Island is here.

The U.S. Army’s Golden Knights Parachute team will return to Coney Island to perform in the new air show scheduled for August 28-29, 2010, (Cancelled! See Aug 10 Update below) ATZ has learned. We can’t wait to see the inevitable pix of the parachutists with the Parachute Jump in the background! Friends who’ve attended Coney Island air shows of the past (the last one was in 2000) say the jumpers land with unerring precision on targets set out on the beach.

Golden Knights U.S. Army Parachute Team. Photo courtesy of the US Army

The air show will also mark the historic return of the USAF Thunderbirds jet team to Coney Island as ATZ reported earlier this week. The August 28-29 weekend air show will be the culmination of Air Force Week, according to Ted Plana, the Director of Air Operations for the show. The event is the Air Force’s equivalent of Fleet Week and will be a citywide event. “They will be going into the boroughs,” Plana says.

Air Force Weeks were established in 2006 by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and have traveled to different locales including St. Louis, Las Vegas, Sacramento and Los Angeles. The L.A. event featured free events such as spectacular flyovers, aircraft and interactive simulator demos, concerts, a film festival and more. According to the USAF, “The Air Force Week program is part of a proactive initiative to increase communication with the public. Each Air Force week may include community visits and talks by Air Force officials, flight demonstration team performances and displays providing an up close and personal look at the Air Force men and women serving on the front lines.”

Young spectators take a look inside an Air Force Thunderbirds' cockpit at the California Capital Airshow the culminating event of Air Force Week-Sacramento, Sept. 12. Air Force Week-Sacramento is an event using various activities and exhibitions to educate the community about the Air Force's capabilities and missions. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

Both the Golden Knights and the Thunderbirds released their 2010 schedule on December 8 at the ICAS (International Council of Air Shows) Convention in Las Vegas, setting off a flurry of speculation in Coney Island about the sponsorship of the new event in the People’s Playground.

Plana tells ATZ that the event has been in the planning stages for the past year and a half. “We have been working with the City to get clearances and permits, and then with the Air Force to get the Thunderbirds,” says Plana. Now that the stars of the show are on board, the sponsors are gearing up to officially announce the event.

The last weekend in August was chosen for this family oriented event since people are home and getting ready for school, Plana notes. It’s also a time when attendance drops off in Coney Island. At a recent stakeholders meeting, Coney Island business owners called for more special events in late August to boost attendance. Sounds like they got their wish.

How many people are projected to attend the air show? “A conservative estimate would be 500,000 per day,” says Plana, who notes that more than 2 million people live in Brooklyn and the air show will be visible for blocks beyond the amusement district.

“It will have some of the elements of the Lauderdale show, including stages,” says Plana, who has been Director of Air Operations for the Fort Lauderdale Air and Beach Festival for the past 15 years. The best viewing area as well as the stages are expected to be set up at Stillwell Ave and 10th Street. The air show and the majority of Air Force Week events will be free to the public.

This concludes the week of “Finding out About the Secret Air Show in Coney Island” at ATZ! Drop by next week for the usual news and rumors about what’s going on in Coney Island, ATZ’s first book review and more.

UPDATE August 10, 2010:

We’re sorry to report the Coney Island Air Show could not get all of the necessary permits–a complicated situation by all accounts– and persistent rumors that the air show would be cancelled or “postponed” have turned out to be true. The high cost of police security for the event was also rumored to be a factor. The Thunderbirds and Golden Knights finally removed “Brooklyn, NY” from their schedules. Air Force Week NYC will go on without a Coney Island Air Show. Instead they’re advertising the Aug 25 air show in Atlantic City!

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December 9, 2009: USAF Thunderbirds Air Show Returns to Coney Island in August 2010

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[If you’re looking for info about the 2015 New York Air Show in Coney Island, here you go.]

The U.S. Air Force “Thunderbirds” precision aerial demonstration team has announced its 2010 air show schedule and ta da da da.…”Brooklyn NY, Coney Island” has the August 28-29 slot! According to the group’s fact sheet, the largest crowd, 2.25 million people, to see a Thunderbirds performance was at Coney Island on July 4, 1987. We can’t wait to see how many zillion people show up for the new Coney Island Air Show in August 2010! (Cancelled! See August 10 Update below.)

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform a 6-ship formation fly over during an airshow. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Frye

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform a 6-ship formation fly over during an airshow. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Frye

The return of the Thunderbirds to the People’s Playground is cause for celebration. The last time the Thunderbirds were in Coney Island was 1993, according to Sgt. Pamela Anderson of the USAF Thunderbirds Public Affairs Office. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Astroland sponsored not only the USAF flyers but also the US Army’s parachute team as well as the Navy’s Blue Angels in 2000. From the July 3, 1987 article by Andrew L. Yarrow in the New York Times…

Above Coney Island, the wild blue yonder will be wilder than usual this weekend as the Thunderbirds, the Air Force aerobatic jet team, and the Army’s Golden Knights precision parachute jump team perform a variety of aerial stunts. The Thunderbirds alone take to the skies this afternoon at 1:30 in the vicinity of the Boardwalk and West 10th Street. Both groups appear tomorrow from about 1:30 to 2:45 P.M. And on Sunday at 1:30, the Knights will perform such maneuvers as passing batons and jumping from 13,000 feet onto a small target banner.

The walls of Astroland’s office were emblazoned with dramatic news photos of these annual events. The flamboyant Coney Island press agent Milton Berger, who worked for Steeplechase Park, the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce and Astroland Park, was the “air show chairman” and a master at estimating attendance. “For the first day of a three-day air show, he reported a crowd of only 750,000, but only to leave room for much bigger crowds that he would report for the next two days,” his obit says. When Dick Zigun of Coney Island USA learned on Tuesday about the Thunderbirds return via a post on the Coney Island Message Board, he posted: “I produced the last [air show] on behalf of Astroland and a decade ago the ‘free’ show cost over $100,000. Who is the sponsor?” [See Dec. 11 update on “Air Force Week”]

Good question. Since the Thunderbirds’ December 8th press release doesn’t say, we’ll have to wait till regular business hours on Wednesday to find out who’s paying for the show and if the Army’s parachute team will return as well. In recent years, the Thunderbirds have headlined the Memorial Day weekend New York Air Show at Jones Beach sponsored by the Bethpage Federal Credit Union. Jones Beach in Wantagh, New York will instead host the Navy’s Blue Angels in May 2010.

Fourth of July air shows and fireworks have been a Coney tradition since the 1940s. In 1957, New York City’s delegation to the House of Representatives lobbied the Secretary of Defense for a national air show in Coney Island that would demonstrate America’s “airpower for peace.” The May event steadily grew into Armed Forces Week with the sponsorship of the US Air Force Recruiting Services, the City of New York and the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce. According to Billboard, the 1958 schedule included the 52-piece Women’s Air Force Band at Steeplechase Pier, plus precision flying demonstrations by the Navy Blue Angels flying team, aerial refueling, Coast Guard jet assisted take off from water and Army helicopter rescue display!

Historian Charles Denson, who grew up in Coney Island, vividly recalls the air shows of the 1960s in the chapter titled “Civil Defense” in Coney Island: Lost and Found.

The show began on the beach with a simulated nuclear explosion—“a make believe atomic burst” was the official description—beside the Steeplechase Park pier…. A sonic boom announced the formation of fighter jets from Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field which performed acrobatics above the crowds on the Boardwalk. Skydivers dropped from planes and landed on the beach The Air Force then orchestrated a slow speed flyover of light fighter jets and huge prop driven troop transports that hung at stall speed just over our heads.

UPDATE August 10, 2010:

We’re sorry to report the Coney Island Air Show could not get all of the necessary permits–a complicated situation by all accounts– and persistent rumors that the air show would be cancelled or “postponed” have turned out to be true. The high cost of police security for the event was also rumored to be a factor. The Thunderbirds finally removed “Brooklyn, NY” from their schedule. Air Force Week NYC will go on without a Coney Island Air Show. Instead they’re advertising the Thunderbirds performance at the Aug 25 air show in Atlantic City!

Here’s a look at the Thunderbirds performing at the 2009 Jones Beach Air Show. Video courtesy of Steve’s Airshow World

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