It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the world-famous Atlantic City Airshow – Thunder over the Boardwalk, returning to the seaside resort on August 22!
** Tuesday's Airshow practice day and Wednesday's Atlantic City Airshow will take place as long as the weather maintains safe conditions for winds, visibility and cloud ceilings and we maintain the required FAA minimum requirements to protect the pilots and spectators. Visitors can follow the “Atlantic City Airshow Thunder Over the Boardwalk” on Facebook for any updates www.facebook.com/AirshowAC.**
Some people say you can get the best view of Atlantic City from one of our many high-rise casino hotels. Others say the seaside resort is best viewed offshore, from a sailboat or tour boat. But the best view of all may be the bird’s eye view. And Larry Arken’s got it.
Arken is commanding officer and lead pilot for the Geico Skytypers, a squadron of six vintage World War II aircraft that performs precision flight maneuvers at airshows around the United States.
“It’s awesome,” says Arken. “Every show we do is spectacular, but I particularly enjoy Atlantic City, for the sheer number of people who turn out. When I make that first turn and see the beach and Boardwalk packed with people, people waving on hotel rooftops, it’s really cool.”
As their name suggests, the Skytypers do skywriting in puffs of smoke. Most planes that spell out names or create midair images do it laboriously, one letter at a time, using the craft’s thick emissions trail. “We’re the only guys in the country that do it digitally at altitude, through a computer,” says Arken. “We can do 25 letters in a minute and a half.” This year, the flyboys will also race the Geico Offshore Race Team, with two airplanes flying 20 feet above a powerboat going 140 miles per hour. Talk about high velocity!
The Skytypers are just part of this year’s fun. Also in the lineup are the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, who will kick off the show with a flag jump followed by a “mass exit” of parachutists from the aircraft.
The Birds are Back
But the biggest thrill may be the return of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, “America’s Ambassadors in Blue,” who did not appear at the 2013 Thunder due to the government sequester. This team of crack aviators will perform a one-hour thrill show, sometimes flying only a few feet from wingtip to wingtip in F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.
All day long, the skies will be filled with amazing displays of skill and precision, including search-and-rescue demonstrations, helicopter flybys, mid-air aerobatics, and exhibitions by pilots in some of the world’s greatest aircraft.
And there’s no such thing as a bad seat. The spectacle can be viewed up and down the coastline, from Brigantine to Ocean City, says Joe Kelly, president of the Atlantic City Chamber, which coordinates the annual event. “The unique feature of this show is that it’s free. We use our No. 1 asset, the beachfront, and that’s why the numbers are so huge, because every community and their guests get treated to an airshow.”
Best Seats in the House
Needless to say, it’s great for business – the 2012 show generated $42 million in additional revenues for the city not just on the day of the show but all week long. “On Monday, you have the Salute to the Armed Forces parade,” notes Kelly. “Tuesday is a practice day, when they fly the entire show to practice. For folks who don’t want to deal with the crowds, Tuesday’s a very good option.” And a number of parties will be held to hail the daring men in their flying machines. It’s a great week all-around to visit this city by the sea.
Join the Crowd!
And don’t let the throng scare you away – viewing Thunder over the Boardwalk with thousands of others is part of the fun. The city has made it easy for incoming travelers by providing a convenient shuttle service. Just park at Bader Field on Albany Avenue and take the bus to downtown Atlantic City.
A few tips from Kelly: Prepare for it like a beach day. Bring sunscreen and stay hydrated. These jets really roar – the F-16 has more horsepower than the starting lineup of the Indy 500, and is capable of going twice the speed of sound, so a pair of earplugs might also come in handy.
For more information about Atlantic City's Thunder over the Boardwalk Airshow, visit acchamber.com.