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|Thunder over the Boardwalk|
|Location(s)||Atlantic City, New Jersey|
Thunder Over the Boardwalk (also known as the Atlantic City Airshow) is an annual airshow held over the Atlantic City boardwalk every summer. Since 2003, it has set the bar for beachfront airshows across the United States and is currently one of the largest airshows in North America. What sets it apart, aside from being a beach show, is the fact that it usually occurs on a Wednesday. It takes place along the beaches of Atlantic City, New Jersey, in front of the world-famous boardwalk, with the casinos in the background. Flybys and demonstrations as high as 15,000 feet (4,600 m) and as low as 50 feet (15 m) over the water in front of the Atlantic City skyline.
It is produced by a joint venture of the Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, David Schultz Airshows, The Press of Atlantic City and WOND-AM. In 2020, the airshow had its first cancellation in its history due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airshow itself primarily showcases military aviation, with demonstrations from the USAF Thunderbirds, United States Navy Blue Angels, US Army Golden Knights, as well as demonstrations from current Air Force and Navy aircraft, such as the A-10 Thunderbolt II, AV-8B Harrier, F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the F/A-18F Super Hornet. Military flybys over the four years of the airshow have included the B-2 Spirit, C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, C-141 Starlifter, F-22 Raptor, KC-10 Extender, KC-135 Stratotanker, and the P-3 Orion. Helicopters that have showed up over the years include the MH-60S Knighthawk, the HH-60 Jayhawk, the CH-146 Griffon, and the HH-65 Dauphin (the HH-60 and HH-65 - usually two HH-65s - perform a simultaneous search and rescue demonstration over the water).
Aerobatic performers over the years have included Kirby Chambliss, Doug Dodge, Michael Hunter, John Klatt, and Sean Tucker. The Horseman Mustang Demonstration by Jim Beasley and Ed Shipley have also appeared along with the Skytypers and the Vultures Formation Team. The FAA's William J Hughes Technical Center at Atlantic City International Airport has showcased itsConvair 440, Boeing 727-100, and Gulfstream in the show as well. The New Jersey State Police have also shown its Bell 206 and Sikorsky S-76 helicopters in the airshows.
Show center is marked in front of Boardwalk Hall (Florida Avenue) and the beach. Aircraft staging for the airshow is done at Atlantic City International Airport and at McGuire AFB, both of which are off-limits to the public.
The USAF Heritage Flight and the US Navy Legacy Flight have also performed at the show.
The announcers for the Thunder Over the Boardwalk Airshow have included Gordon Bowman-Jones (2003 and 2005), Howdy McCann (2004 and 2006) and Pinky Kravitz (2003-2014).
The first show took place on August 27, 2003, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of powered flight. Headlining the show were the Thunderbirds and the Golden Knights. The show also featured demonstrations from the A-10, F-14, F-15, and F-16, all jam packed into a five and a half hour flying display. The weather was not very favorable, as it was hazy for the entire day.
The 2004 show was held on August 18, and featured the same four demonstrations, as it would be the last time an F-14 Tomcat would fly over Atlantic City, along with the last airshow appearance of a C-141B Starlifter from McGuire AFB, as the type was being withdrawn from active duty service. The skies were about the same as they were in 2003, and all of the performers were able to put on their best shows for over 350,000 airshow fans and beach-goers.
The 2005 show was held on August 31, and featured the Thunderbirds once again, but the show was threatened by bad weather inland (caused by the remnants of Hurricane Katrina), which kept many of the performers from showing up, including Dale Snodgrass. High winds curtailed the Golden Knights and Black Daggers from jumping and caused sea spray coming off the ocean to ruin any chances of photographers getting decent pictures. The show was still a success, with over 200,000 people attending.
In December 2005, the Thunderbirds announced they were returning to Atlantic City for the fourth installment of the show. In February 2006, the Blue Angels announced they had a show site listed as "TBA" for August 23 - the same date as the Atlantic City show. In March, it was formally announced that the Blue Angels would be joining the Thunderbirds for the 2006 show.
Joining the Blues and Birds were a slew of performers making their Atlantic City debut, including Sean Tucker, the new F-15E Strike Eagle Demonstration Team, the B-2 Spirit, the F-4 Phantom, and the F-22 Raptor. The weather had turned out to be fantastic, with over 600,000 people attending the airshow, making the 2006 airshow one of the largest events ever held in Atlantic City up until that time. All of the pieces of the puzzle had fit together nicely and both jet teams held their annual reunion at Atlantic City.
The show was held on Wednesday, August 19. It debuted the Flightline Club which provided public seating on the beach and also featured a la carte food and beverage service. The weather had turned out to be fantastic, with over 750,000 people attending the airshow, making it one of the largest events ever held in Atlantic City. The schedule included the USAF Heritage Flight featuring the F-16, A-10 and 2 P-51s and the US Navy Legacy Flight featuring F/A-18F and F4U Corsair.
The 2010 show was held on Wednesday, August 25 – 100 years after Atlantic City and Asbury Park hosted New Jersey's very first airshows. According to the New Jersey State Police there were over 750,000 people in attendance.
The show was held on Wednesday, August 17.
The 2012 show was held on Friday, August 17. This was the first year the show was held on a weekend. Early attendance estimates were for 1 million people.
In 2013, the show returned to a Wednesday but it was held in June instead of its traditional month of August. This year, spending cuts by the United States federal government due to budget sequestration forced the US military to cancel all appearances at airshows, including this show. As a result, there were no US military flybys, jet demonstration teams, parachute teams, or solo demonstrations by select fighters. While many airshows elsewhere were canceled due to the absence of US military support, Atlantic City organizers decided the show was going to be held regardless. At the same time, they had a challenge: more commercial acts meant that organizers were looking for more donations to cover the costs of this airshow. Overall, they still managed to put on a good show even without the US military to provide the "thunder" that gave this airshow its name.
The show returned to its traditional month of August. It was held on Wednesday, August 13. With the end of sequestration, US military participants returned to the show.
The show was held on Wednesday, September 2. The Blue Angels were the first announced participant.The Star-Spangled Banner was delivered by Lee Greenwood.
For a photographer, Thunder Over the Boardwalk presents a challenging set of circumstances to get the best shot. The show takes place over the Atlantic Ocean, which means that one is facing the sun all morning and into the afternoon. Getting decent pictures of the aircraft as they pass by the casinos is not difficult at all, as well as getting pictures of the Golden Knights as they land, with the casinos in the background. Photographers on the beach at show center cannot get that many pictures of aircraft when they are at show left because the Pier at Caesars juts out into the ocean about 1,000 feet (300 m) and is a virtual obstruction either way. Because of the pier, aircraft are forced to fly almost half a mile away from the shore line for safety reasons.
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