JONES BEACH STATE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Twists, twirls, flips and more – it’s a Memorial Day weekend tradition. It’s the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park.
Thousands of people flock to see the unbelievable stunts the pilots can pull off — some at speeds of up to 200 mph.
Earlier this week, CBS 2 anchor Kristine Johnson got a bird’s eye view at what it’s like to fly in one of the show’s aerobatic aircraft.
It was one wild ride.
From loops and rolls to flying upside down, a ride in a world-class aerobatic aircraft is a trip of a lifetime and maybe just a little nerve-racking.
Before she got in the plane, Johnson met the man who would take her high in the sky and realized she was in good hands.
Veteran pilot Lt. Colonel John Klatt has been flying for nearly 25 years. Deployed in Iraq three times, Klatt commanded an F-16 fighter jet in combat. He’s flown support missions all around the world and captained heavy airliners shuttling passengers safely to their destinations. Now, Klatt controls a powerful air show plane — the Panzl S330 — as it tumbles through the sky, leaving spectators in awe.
As Johnson was taking one of the most amazing tours of New York City, passing Coney Island, the Verrazano Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, Klatt explained why he loves performing in the Bethpage Air Show each year.
“My dad was an airline mechanic and he was a jet mechanic in the Air National Guard in the 1950s,” Lt. Colonel Klatt said.
Inspired by stories his father told him, Klatt said he knew as a young child that he wanted to be a pilot. He joined the Air National Guard shortly after graduating high school.
“It really brings me a lot of pleasure when I can inspire another young person,” Lt. Colonel Klatt said.
Today, as one of the top air show performers in the country, Klatt said he hopes his twists and turns at speeds sometimes exceeding 250 mph will inspire others to follow in his flight pattern.
“It does bring me a lot of joy to be able to share the gift of flight,” Klatt said.
It’s joy that was certainly “plane” to see – that is once Johnson’s stomach settled down.
The air show will be held this weekend at Jones Beach State Park — both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and it’s free to the public.
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