ORLANDO, Fla. — Six World War II aircraft and the pilots who fly them are poised to take to the skies this season as the GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team honors the 75th anniversary of the war’s conclusion.
The GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team will perform a shortened schedule in 2020 due to the string of air show cancellations in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. The team’s updated 12 show site visits will begin no earlier than Memorial Day weekend at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach in New York.
The Skytypers’ six Navy SNJ-2/SNJ-4 aircraft demonstrate the dog fighting styles and maneuvers flown by the “Greatest Generation” over 75 years ago. The team will tell you they are not an aerobatic squadron, but a formation squadron who tell the story of the pilots who controlled the skies during World War II and Korea.
A Special Season for a Special Anniversary
“This is an exceptionally important year as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII,” Larry Arken, lead pilot of the GEICO Skytypers, said on Thursday. ” Our warbirds trained the ‘greatest generation’ of pilots for WWII and in memory we’re presenting a special tribute demonstration designed by team members who served in the U.S. military.”
The squadron’s popularity has risen as they co-headline the nation’s top air shows performing with the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy’s Blue Angels. This season, the team’s demonstration will remember those who served during the second world war.
“It’s a very dynamic demo with a lot of things happening very quickly with some maneuvers a tribute to the era of the generation of these World War II airplanes,” Arken added. “Other things are done for the spectators view like a heart or a bomb burst, and other maneuvers are tactical maneuvers which the military still uses.”
Hours of Preparation Go Into Each Demonstration
On the ground, the Skytypers spend their time at each air show site visiting hospitals and education centers with their public outreach program. The team has also been know to host student groups at the air show for a group discussion plane side, and the chance to climb aboard their aircraft.
Behind the scenes are the maintainers who keep the SNJ-2 and SNJ-4 aircraft running. These experts include Frank Atria, Mike Beecroft, and Greg Coons, and they travel with the team to each show.
Each air show is a treat as the Skytypers demonstrate incredible precision flying for 18 minutes. These World War II-era aircraft have a rich history behind them as they assisted the Allied Forces.
“Airshow spectators and aviation enthusiasts will witness our ‘warbirds’ perform a dynamic demonstration designed by team members who served in the U.S. military,” Arken added. “We look forward to introducing this season’s tactical flight maneuvers alongside other top premier military and civilian performers.”
The GEICO Skytypers carry the torch forward for the Greatest Generation of pilots, demonstrating their story high above the air show crowds during their demonstration. The Skytypers’ dedication provides spectators an eye into the history of early aviation.
Across the air show loud speakers, the Skytypers’ Jim Record provides a historic narrative into the maneuvers overhead. It’s a true living history lesson highlighting the aircraft and those aviators who navigated the smoke-blackened skies of war.
UPDATED GEICO Skytypers 2020 Airshow Schedule:
May 23-24 …………. Jones Beach, NY Bethpage Airshow
June 13-14 …………. Ocean City Air Show, MD
June 20-21 …………. Quonset Point Air National Guard Base, North Kingstown, RI
July 20-26 ……………. AirVenture Oshkosh, WI
August 15-16 ………. Chicago Air and Water Show
August 22-23 ………. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Armed Forces Air Show, PA
August 26 …………….. Thunder Over The Boardwalk – Atlantic City, NJ
September 9-14 …… Maryland Fleet Week & Air Show
September 19-20 …. NAS Oceana Air Show, VA
(TBD) Autumn……….. Fort Lauderdale Beach, FL Airshow (Reschedule)
Oct. 31-Nov. 1 ………. Lockheed Martin Space and Air Show, Sanford, FL
November 6-8 ………. Stuart Air Show, FL
(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)