Members Flock to Support N.Y. Air Show
1st Lt. Bill Mason
Public Affairs Officer
Sullivan County Cadet Squadron
New York Wing
Almost 200 Civil Air Patrol members gathered at New York Stewart International Airport the weekend of Sept. 15-16 to assist with the New York Air Show by providing a wide range of services for the fourth straight year.
The CAP members were expected to show up at 7:45 a.m., which meant some had to wake up as early as 3 a.m. to arrive on time from distant locations like Rochester and Long Island.
Their reward? Long hours in the hot sun! Some helped manage crowds, funneling ticket holders into chutes that led to the entrance; others helped cook and serve food; and still others were responsible for reminding visitors not to touch any of the impressive array of aircraft on display
The U.S. Navy displayed F/A-18F Super Hornets, while the U.S. Air Force provided F-16 Fighting Falcons and an A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as the Warthog. Further east on the tarmac, the Air Force also exhibited a C-5 Galaxy, its largest plane, and the C-17 Globemaster III, a cargo plane capable of lifting nearly 250,000 pounds of payload. The U.S. Marine Corps provided a KC-130J Hercules, a four-engine, propeller driven cargo and troop transport craft.
Flying displays were provided by a C-5, a C-17, a KC-135 refueling aircraft and several acrobatic planes. Three World War II planes flew as well: the B-17 Flying Fortress “Memphis Belle,” a B-25 Mitchell and a P-40 Warhawk.
The Warhawk amazed the crowds with high-speed passes and vertical climbs. The Memphis Belle and the B-25 took passengers on multiple flights through the day.
The Memphis Belle, whose crew gave a large group of CAP members a guided tour, provided a particularly impressive sight as it headed down the runway for takeoff. The plane slowly accelerated but never seemed to start flying, instead seeming just to roll into the air – a spectacle repeated many times given the aircraft’s multiple flights.
The show headliners were the Air Force’s Thunderbirds F-16 aerial acrobatic team. The six pilots flew a half-hour program of high- and slow-speed passes, opposing passes, loops and vertical climbs.
The Thunderbirds closed out their performance with their signature maneuver – the Bomb Burst, in which four planes approaching from four directions pull up into a simultaneous vertical climb. Once vertical, the F-16s continued to pitch over until they were flying back in the direction from which they came. A fifth plane flew up through the intersection of the other four, continuing a vertical climb to almost t3 miles high.
With all five planes trailing smoke, a bomb burst pattern is left in the sky.
In addition, members maintained a recruiting booth, a command post and two aircraft displays – a present-day CAP Cessna 182 and a 1940 Fairchild 24R, co-owned by Lt. Col. Sean Neal and Maj. Susan Neal, that has been restored as a CAP Base 2 Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, subchaser.
CAP’s presence in the air show also included U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s presentation to Irma Estis with a replica of the CAP Congressional Gold Medal honoring the organization's volunteer World War II service. Estis joined the organization in 1943 at age 14 while attending William Howard Taft High School in the Bronx. She eventually obtained the rank of first sergeant and specialized in drill training.
“The war was underway, I wanted to make my contribution to the war effort like many other people did. CAP seemed like the right thing to do. I wasn’t looking for special attention, just doing what I thought I could,” said Estis, who wore her original World War II-era CAP blouse.
Her son, 1st Lt. Jonathan Estis, and grandson, Reid Estis, are members of the New York Wing’s Orange County Cadet Squadron.