By GREGORY ZELLER //
With female pilots set to soar high in this year’s Bethpage Air Show, nearly two dozen high school girls flew out in front of the Memorial Day festivities – and maybe taxied some aviation careers toward takeoff.
Twenty girls from Westbury High School visited Republic Airport in Farmingdale on Wednesday to meet the GEICO Skytypers, a “world famous” air show team featuring a squadron of six vintage World War II aircraft – and one of several aerial acts scheduled to participate in the 2019 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, taking flight this holiday weekend off Jones Beach State Park.
The visit – arranged through the Long Island chapter of Girls Incorporated, a 155-year-old, registered 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to turning girls into smart, strong and bold women – was designed to navigate the girls toward potential aviation career paths.
Among other highlights, Wednesday’s program gave participants a chance to climb aboard the GEICO Skytypers’ aircraft – vintage North American Aviation SNJ-2s, popular WWII training aircraft that earned the affectionate nickname “the pilot maker.”
Anissa Rivera, program coordinator for Girls Incorporated of Long Island, said the Republic Airport visit flew perfectly in formation with Girls Inc.’s primary mission to give young women the skills they need to become community leaders and encourage gender equality.
“Girls Incorporated has a large focus on college and career readiness,” Rivera noted.
And the fact that this year’s version of the annual Bethpage Air Show features so many accomplished female pilots made it a perfect case example for the nonprofit’s young charges.
For the first time, four female pilots will be featured in the two-day event, including three flying with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds – Capts. Michelle Curran, Lauren Venturini and Kassandra Mangosing – and esteemed aviatrix Jessy Panzer, considered one of the world’s leading female aerobatic pilots.
“Women are not traditionally represented in science and engineering, so we’re excited for [the students] to see representation in these fields today,” Rivera told Innovate LI. “Maybe one of them will be the next pilot in a future air show.”
Several exciting aerial acts are slated to join Panzer, the Thunderbirds and the GEICO Skytypers at the annual Bethpage Air Show, including The Gladiators, a U.S. Navy FA-18 Super Hornet demonstration team; antique aircraft piloted by the American Airpower Museum and the Bayport Aerodrome Society; and the Red Bull aerobatic helicopter.
Also scheduled during the two-day sky-a-thon are demonstrations by the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, a U.S. Coast Guard search-and-rescue squad and many others.