Thousands of people gathered to take in the grandeur of vintage aircraft, modern military aircraft and agricultural aircraft during this past weekend’s annual New York Air Show at Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, N.Y. Attending the event displaying the ag aircraft was ag pilot Mike Rutledge. Rutledge is the commanding officer of the West Point Aviation Department and Executive Flight Detachment at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., just off the Hudson River and near New Windsor. He also helps Curless Flying Service in Astoria, Ill., conducting ag flying work in the summer when he’s not teaching character development and military leadership at West Point. Rutledge is a former Navy SEAL.
Rutledge took Curless Flying Service’s Air Tractor 602 to the New York Airshow and got an impromptu request to perform an ag flying demonstration in a region where folks don't likely if ever see ag planes. Rutledge was in good company. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the oldest performing U.S. aviation demonstration team, were one of the air show’s main attractions as was the C-130, known as “Fat Albert,” and six F/A-18 Hornets. Over 50,000 attendees were at the show and Rutledge gave seven inspectors from the FAA’s New York Flight Standards District Office a presentation on the AT-602 aircraft, systems, and capabilities of modern ag planes. His help earned permission to be in the Air Show’s performance box and earned the AT-602 a parking spot next to the Blue Angels, F-16 and F-35 on the show line.
Another major attraction at the New York Air Show was Heritage to Horizons, the flight of three different Air Force planes to commemorate the branch’s 70th anniversary. The North American P-51 Mustang, an airplane introduced in 1942, represented the Air Force’s past; the General Dynamics F-16 Viper, which has been in flight since the 1970s, was there to represent the present; and the future aircraft was the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which was introduced two years ago. Other aircraft at the show included the Boeing C-17 Globe Master III, the Lucas Oil Pitts S-1-11B and the Cold War-ear Aero L-39 Albatros.