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Feature Stories

Air Diver Soars Close to Home

The territory will look familiar to diver Aleth Lohr-Matrone when the popular Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach returns for its 10th anniversary Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh.

This year’s show will offer a stunning lineup including the Misty Blues All-Women Skydiving team. This will be the first year that the Misty Blues have performed, and for one of the team members the show will be a homecoming of sorts.

Lohr-Matrone was born and raised in North Babylon and was a member of the North Babylon High School Class of 1981. During her college years she became interested in skydiving. As she started to get more involved with the sport and began traveling, she became close with her fellow skydivers and was eventually invited to join the Misty Blues.

“I’ve been on the team for over 20 years,” Lohr-Matrone said.

It has been an impressive 20-plus years.

“I personally have over 2,200 jumps and four world records,” Lohr-Matrone said. She holds the records for largest freefall formation and earned two records for the largest two-point freefall formation plus the largest women’s freefall formation. Lohr-Matrone works inside a plane as well as out. “I also have my pilot’s license,” she said.

As for the shows, she said her favorite part of participating is always the audience. “It’s wonderful to hear them cheering when we land,” Lohr-Matrone said. “Afterwards, we hand out stickers to the kids. Meeting the people has been wonderful.”

She has plenty of opportunities to meet new faces. Because Misty Blues is also an international team, Lohr-Matrone has been able to travel widely.

The highlight “was, for me, Japan,” she said.

Together, the team has performed more than 20,000 jumps and multiple records, including the largest women’s freefall formation. But while Lohr-Matrone insists there is no major difference between being on a co-ed team or an all- women’s team, she understands the novelty of the latter.

“It is a male dominated sport so to have an all women’s team is pretty amazing,” Lohr-Matrone said.

But isn’t it scary jumping out of a plane?

“Not so much anymore. There is a certain degree of respect you have to have for the sport,” Lohr-Matrone said. She explained that a lot of hard work and careful planning go into making each jump successful and that all the equipment is ready and everyone has done their job correctly.

Lohr-Matrone is excited to be participating in this year’s air show with her teammates.

“I was very impressed with the lineup for the Bethpage show, I think it’s going to be a great show,” she said. “We’ve got a really good team and we really enjoy getting together to do these shows.”

In addition to the Misty Blues, the Air show will also feature performances by the Royal Canadian Air Force F-18 Demonstration Team, the Raiders Demonstration Team, the Red Bull Air Force Skydiver Parachute Team and many more.

“We enhanced the civilian show,” explained Linda Armyn, Senior Vice President, Bethpage Federal Credit Union. Armyn has been producing the show for the past 10 years.

“It’s going to be a full day of air show and I think it’s going to be a fantastic show,” Armyn said.

Armyn was able to explain some of the new features of this years show, including Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach 10th Anniversary App, which will be available on iTunes. The App will allow attendees to get up-to-the minute information on parking field availability, listen to live aircraft-to-tower communications from Republic Airport, share content and easily find vendors, attractions and so much more.

“Also new this year is the 10th Anniversary commemoration DVD, which shows what happens at the beach and what goes into making the Air Show,” Armyn said.

The first thousand cars on Saturday will receive a free copy of the DVD, and there will also be other opportunities to win the DVD at the event.

Armyn said that each year, they would usually try and raise money for military veterans and families but this year would be slightly different.

“This year, we are raising money for Sandy Victims through t-shirt sales,” Armyn said.

Yet another new and exciting feature to this year’s Air Show, is the debut of Dusty the Plane. In celebration of Disney’s Planes, which comes to theaters August 9, 2013, a special plane made to mimic the likeness of Dusty from the film will entertain the crowed with a rousing performance, accompanied by an exclusive Disney musical score.

The only thing missing from this year’s show will be the popular performance of the United States Air Force’s Blue Angels, which usually closes the show.

“What I’ve been telling everyone, is that if you love the Air Show all day long, and the only thing you missed was the Blue Angels, but still loved the rest of your day, then come because you will still love the show,” Armyn said.

The Air Show is free to the public, but the standard$10 vehicle use fee will be collected each day upon entry to the State Park. For 2013 NYS Empire Passport holders, there is no vehicle use charge. For those interested in taking public transportation to the show, NICE Bus has increased its summer service and will run the n88 out of the Freeport LIRRstation to Jones Beach every half hour from 8:35 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Also, the n87 out of the Hicksville LIRR station will run hourly to Jones Beach on both days, from 9:20 a.m. – 7:20 p.m.

For more information about this year’s show, visit www.bethpageairshow.com or contact the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Regional Office, Recreation Department at 631-321-3510. For more information about NICE buses routes and fees, visit www.nicebus.com.