The Stewart – New York Air Show in Review

By: Category: AirshowsLuke AFBMilitarySky Writing




Here’s a story about a now firmly-established, mid-sized U.S. East Coast Air Show with a good cross section of local and national aviation talent that always is entertaining.

The 2017 New York Air Show blasted into Stewart International Airport, New York, on Saturday and Sunday July 1st and 2nd, 2017. It was a big hit! Normally it’s pretty quiet up here at Stewart, about five miles west of the Hudson River near the city of Newburgh, an old industrial town right on the river. But when the Air Show comes to town (now in its fourth year) things really get lively and a little noisy around here! That TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) extended right down to the Hudson River this year for practice and show days, so the people who went down for lunch on the deck at Billy Joe’s Ribworks on the River got themselves a nice little mini air show as the fast movers did tight 6-G turns over the water at 500 feet.


The burners this year included: the F/A-18’s with the Blues; the F-16 Demo; the F-35 Demo and the Aero L-39 Czech Albatross. All told, Hot Ramp, Static Ramp, and the Blues Ramp, there were 31 aircraft in the show this year.

The Blue Angels were the main attraction this year, enough of a crowd-pleaser to get almost 100,000 people to this show. The Blues got here on Monday, early enough for them to get in some tourist time in Manhattan and still maintain the basic rule of getting in at least one practice hop every two days minimum. Many of the solo demos started arriving on Thursday for practice and familiarization flying. It is hilly around Stewart so you really need to know terrain-avoidance and key landmarks within the Aerobatic Box, especially with the fast movers.

The following may be the only accurate list for those of you who love these kinds of details:


Static Show Ramp: a Lockheed-Martin KC-130T Hercules Tanker from VMGR-452 “Yankees”, “NY” tail, Stewart ANGB. [We extend our sympathies to the flight crew and passengers of the KC-130T Tanker from VMGR-452 that recently crashed in Mississippi on 10 July 2017 killing all 16 personnel on board.]; a Cessna-172 SP “Skyhawk”; a red monoplane “Giles-200” stunt plane; a silver 1946 GC-1B “Globe Swift” from Orange County Airport; a Tampico “Sprint GT”; a C-172 seaplane; a second C-172 “Skyhawk”; a CAP C-172 “Skyhawk”; a private US Army OH-58C Bell “Kiowa” from Air One Mobility from Kingston, NY; a private US Army 1965 Hughes TH-55 “Osage” light training helicopter also owned by Air One; an active US Army UH-60L “Blackhawk” helicopter (84-23940);


a McDonnell Douglas / Boeing F-15C Eagle, MAANG, Barnes ANGB, Westfield, MA, 104th FW, “City of Agawam” nose art, “MA” tail, green star nose kill markings, IL-76 shoot down in PGW-1; F-15A, 104FW, MAANG, “City of West Springfield” nose art; a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III, 105th AW, NYANG, Stewart ANGB, new 9-11 World Trade Center Tower-1 nose art, “Sentinel”, 50195, (95-0105), buzz number same as the Squadron number;

Hot Ramp remote on 105AW Guard Ramp side: F-16 Demo, 2-ship flight, Shaw AFB, SC, Viper East Demo Team; Lockheed Martin F-35A, CTOL version, Lightning II Heritage Flight Demo Team, 2-ship flight, Luke AFB; C-17A ANG Demo Team, 105th AW, NYANG, Stewart ANGB;


Hot Ramp on Atlantic FBO west ramp: P-51C Mustang, Heritage Flight, ( Andrew McKenna); GEICO Skytypers Demo Team, SNJ-2 Navy Texans, 6-ship Flight; Robertson R-44 helicopter, Flag Drop helo, Independent Helicopters; Lucas Oil orange modified Curtis Pitts Special biplane, “Little Stinker”, (Mike Wiskus); AT-602, “Flying Air Tractor”, a yellow digital computerized Crop Duster “Aerial Applicator”, (Michael Rutledge); L-39 Aero Vodochody “Albatross” Czech trainer, (Larry Labriolla); Zivco Edge 540 blue mono-wing stunt plane, (David Windmiller); P-51D silver Mustang, Heritage Flight Demo Team, (Andrew McKenna);

Show Center Ramp: F/A-18A Hornets, 6 show aircraft. That should make 31 aircraft — maybe!

Flying Show

Friday was for practice. Saturday was “Show Time”! 0900 – Gates open, walk around, see the static planes, no easy task considering the ramp was a mile and half long and it got up to 90 degrees. 1200 – Launch Aircraft! First up was Mike Wiskus in his bright orange Lucas Oil stunt Curtis Pitts Special biplane for his 5 minute “Teaser” demo. Then the “Liquid Sangria Parachute Team did the US Flag Drop from the Independent Helicopter Co, Robertson R-44 while MSgt Mary Kaye Hessinger sang the National Anthem while Wiskus circled the solo US Flag jumper. Later three more jumpers came out of that tiny R-44.


The C-17A Demo flight from the on base 105th AW was next. This is the only ANG /AFR C-17 Demo Team in the US. Active USAF C-17 units have their own demo teams. Col. Mark Cotton, aircraft commander, started with a maximum angle 25 degree combat takeoff in a 1500 foot runway length, then a high speed pass at 300 knots, then a slow approach with a mid-field break, then a 120 knot slow field landing followed by a reverse move K-Turn back up move and return to base. Next time these guys will learn how to do a hands-off parallel park with the C-17!


Michael Rutledge, call sign “Dusty”, was up next with a brand new bright yellow AT-602, 1350 hp turbine, “Air Tractor” (AT), now professionally called an “Aerial Applicator”, not a Crop Duster anymore. He did an aerial display of crop dusting from his 850 gallon internal tank, today filled with water. This Aerial Applicator aircraft has a GPS computer control system and is accurate to 12 inches when doing a tight field and trying to avoid the power lines while trying to hit the corn and not the string beans. Sounds almost as good as an F-16 driver trying to lay a GBU-10 laser-guided bomb into an open window. Actually Rutledge spent 12 years as a Navy SEAL so that analogy makes sense.


Mike Wiskus took off next with his custom Curtis Pitts Special that he calls “Little Stinker” for his full 20 minute aerobatic show. The GEICO Skytypers were next with their non-typical 5-ship flight with their SNJ-2’s with a slightly modified ACM show. Larry Labeiolla was next with his aggressor tan camouflaged Aero Vodochody L-39 “Albatross” Czech trainer for a nice slow demo. We found out that Larry is a 64 year old successful Landscape Contractor from Scarsdale, NY, who is very proud to “Cut the Grass for the Rich and Famous in Sca-a-a-a-scale!” Guess it works; nice plane you own Larry!


David Windmiller, a water filter designer, next took his yellow and blue Zivco Edge 540 stunt monoplane up for some cool aerobatic flying. It has a tubular steel fuselage with a fabric and carbon fiber skin, a 350 hp engine, and a trust-to-weight ratio of 1:1, meaning it could do some neat Bat Turns, what Windmiller calls “Gyroscopic Maneuvers”.


Andrew McKenna took off next in his silver gloss P-51D Mustang and held to the north to wait for the Heritage Flight to join up later.


Maj. Andriatta next took the F-35A Lightning II demo bird up and held to the south also waiting for the join up. The F-35 went up next after only 1500 feet of runway with a loud high-performance burner take-off that left many waiting to hear again! The F-35 was with the 56th FW out of Luke AFB, AZ. Both the P-51D and the F-35A were only here for the 3-ship Heritage Flight; they did not do any solo performances (except for their departures!).


The F-16 from the Viper East Demo Team out of Shaw AFB, SC, did a max-out burner take off and a gutsy multiple maneuver demo in a little rain shower – no problem. Interesting that the Viper driver – Maj. John Waters, had a call-sign of “Rain” and it rained on him! Climate Change I guess?


Later the Viper headed out and joined up with the Lightning and the Mustang for the 3-ship Heritage Flight. It gets very emotional when they play that patriotic music during the slow fly over. The Blue Angels went up without Bert at 3:00. Weather was closing in. We had bad thunder storm cells to the north and to the south right at the 5-mile Aerobatic Box Limit, but clear WX right on top of Runway 9/27. They actually did it. They did the High Show. On the landing break out just as 6 touched down it started raining a little.

A friendly golf cart driver gave me a lift to my Jeep. As soon as I got in, the sky opened up with heavy rain, hail and lightning. But they got the full show in. The downpour finally ended and there was only one thing left to do – I headed to Billy Joe’s Ribworks on the Hudson for a Carolina Pulled Pork Sandy and a Coors Lite! See you at SWF next year for the Thunderbirds!!

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