What’s faster — a World War II-era, open-cockpit SNJ trainer plane at full throttle or an eight-time world champion offshore catamaran?
Crowds got to find out during the Memorial Day weekend at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach on Long Island, N.Y., when two Geico Skytyper pilots broke away from the team’s famous low-altitude precision flying demonstration and swooped down to an altitude just above the deck of their water counterpart: the Miss Geico.
The planes competed against the world champion boat in two half-mile races along the Jones Beach shoreline, pitting their 75-year-old, 550-hp Pratt & Whitney engines against Miss Geico’s piston-powered engines, which produce nearly 3,300 total hp.
Technically the World War II SNJs are rated at a top speed of 213 mph at 6,000 feet. The Miss Geico, on the other hand, regularly exceeds 200 mph in its 45-minute races against the world’s fastest powerboats.
They ran two laps — eastbound and westbound. The Skytypers won the first leg by a nose, but the boat finished first on the return leg.
The boat team is still raving that it beat the planes on the second day, spokeswoman Teresa Bruce said. They got to speeds of 130 mph.