NEW WINDSOR—The New York Airshow at Stewart International Airport brought thousands on Aug. 20 and 30 to see America’s flyboys do their stuff.
Air Force F22 Raptor
Captain Mitchel Etheridge trained almost two years to fly the F22 Raptor. He is stationed in Virginia and often flies over the DC area where there is lots of other air traffic. Etheridge calls it “an awesome airplane. It’s fast. It’s the best jet in the world. It’s unmatched.”
He is justly proud of the ship he captains. “It’s the greatest airplane in the world and our United States Air Force has it.”
Appearing at the airshow is part of his mission. “We want to build a show for the public to show what the Air Force can do and show how unmatched anybody out there is.” He says it’s American tax dollars at work.
This is quite a flying machine. “It’s a stealth fighter. We go out on missions and people can’t find us but we can find them,” Etheridge says. The avionautics, or computer systems inside, are unmatched with any other aircraft. The system integrates the radar and sensors to work as a seamless unit. “Then the speed—It can super cruise, so it can fly without using afterburners and no other airplane can do that.”
The Raptor was built for power. “Our engine is so powerful that we can slow down and still maneuver where we want to. That’s a lot of Gs.” It can hover at low altitude so that it appears not to be moving at all and “still have maneuverability to point the nose [of the plane] wherever we want.”
As low as the aircraft hovers, Etheridge says the aircraft “always has an out” and recover. “When we are fighting out in the air space, we are always pretty high up, so you always have plenty of time to recover.” No other aircraft can slow down and recover as well. “They end up just flying out in the sky.”
The Air Force now has 180 Raptors in active service with a price tag of about $150 million each. No longer are they being built. “It was funding.” The stealth air superiority fighter was designed by Lockheed Martin and produced until 2011. The F22 is the only military aircraft that cannot be exported.
Navy F18 Super Hornet
Lieutenant Nate Miller calls the F18 Super Hornet multirole fighter a unique aircraft and has many roles in the Navy. “It can do air to air, and air to ground missions. It has the capability to fly off aircraft carriers.” The supersonic jet has a “slick configuration” which in Navy talk means it has no drop tanks or weapon pylons on the wings. “It’s basically like a rocket ship,” Miller said.
In the show, the F18 did a high speed pass coming close to breaking the speed of sound. Miller says the Super Hornet can easily do it. The Hornet can refuel other aircraft. Lieutenant Lance Kovesci says that on a mission, the Super Hornet refuels every day. “We tank daily when we are on deployment.” With four extra fuel tanks inside, “It’s kind of our own organic tanker.”
Miller says flying is what he has always wanted. “It’s just something growing up.” The F18 Super Hornet’s flyaway cost, production costs, is $60.9 million per jet and is still in production. It is in service with the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Air Force.
Stewart’s Own C-17
One military Godzilla is based right on Stewart. Master Sergeant Felix Moyea works as a load master of the C-17 military transport aircraft. The behemoth carries anything anywhere, according to Moyea. “Our mission is basically to provide air mobility to whoever needs it. We basically move what needs to get moved to where it needs to go.” Moyea says the C-17 goes all over the globe and can carry almost anything. “We’ve taken tanks, fuselages of airplanes, fire trucks, personnel,” Moyea said.
More than any other military aircraft, the C-17 is built for service. “We serve the community. We serve our nation,” Moyea says. C-17s delivered cargo and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and Iraq. The C-17 was part of the biggest combat airdrop over Iraq on March 26, 2003.
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