There’s no better way to experience the sun, surf and the sonic boom of an F-22 Raptor airplane than the 2019 Atlantic City Airshow: A Salute To Those That Serve, formerly known as Thunder Over the Boardwalk. While the name may have changed, it is still the same awesome show.
Edited 7/31/2019 to update for the 2019 AC Airshow: A Salute To Those That Serve
Edited 7/6/2020- Due to COVID-19 the 2020 AC Airshow has been canceled.
What's New for 2019 and recent changes
First and most notable is the name change. But there have been some other changes in recent years. So, if you haven’t attended in a while you should know there is no longer a Salute to the Armed Forces Parade the evening before the show. Sadly, it seems that with the 2015 passing of the Pinky Kravitz, local media personality and parade founder, the parade has gone by the wayside.
Next, in previous years there has been a shuttle bus which allowed spectators to park in a lot outside the city and shuttle in. This has been eliminated. You will need to park at one of the lots in the city. You can find all the details on parking here. The cost to park will vary and are set by the lot owner. Additionally, The Borgata offers a free shuttle for hotel guests.
This year there is the addition of the Red, White, and Blue Beach BBQ the evening of Monday, August 19th. Attendees can dine and chit-chat with representatives from branches of the military, and pilots and crew members that perform in the Atlantic City Airshow. Plus, the United States Army Golden Knights will perform a night jump. Tickets are $35 for kids 12 and under and $65 for adults.
And though not officially part of the airshow, while you’re in town you may want to check out the “100 Faces of War” exhibit at the Noyes Arts Garage. This is a traveling exhibition on loan from the Smithsonian and presents the stories of those who served the U.S. in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The exhibit is free and runs through October 6th, so if you are unable to see it while here for the AC Airshow, it’s a good excuse to come back soon.
What to Expect
The big event, the Atlantic City Airshow: Salute to Those That Serve is August 21st, beginning at 11:30 AM. The show always offers a day of thrills. You can expect the Army Golden Knights open the show by flying “Old Glory” while executing parachute jumps.
Throughout the day, there will be aerobatic performances by the GEICO Skytypers. Plus, see the MISS GEICO Speedboat Race with Skytypers. Expect a flyby of a New Jersey State Police choppers and Philadelphia’s own Chopper 6. The NJ Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing will execute passes in an F-16 (squeal). This year’s show will feature the Royal Air Force Red Arrows. Finally, the US Airforce Thunderbirds will close out the day around 4 PM. (more squealing and ooohing and aaahing).
There are a number of vantage points from which to view the show. If you are lucky enough to own a boat or have a friend or family member who does, position yourself in front of Boardwalk Hall for a view from the ocean. Note: Bring a portable radio to listen to the Atlantic City Airshow radio broadcast on WPG Talk Radio 104.1 FM and 1450 AM, as you will be unable to hear the commentators from shore.
If you are staying on land, to make the most of the event you will want to arrive early. Bring your sunscreen, beach chairs, and an umbrella. Find a spot on the beach near Boardwalk Hall and plant yourself for the day. This is where the action happens and you won’t have trouble hearing the commentator. The locals and repeat attendees know this, so they will claim the prime real estate early. Bonus: Atlantic City beaches are one of the few free beaches left in New Jersey.
AC Airshow Packages
Not up for all that sun? Purchase Flight Line Club seating. No sitting on the ground (unless you want to) and no sand in your sandwich. As a Club member, you have beach seating and all you can eat lunch in a tented area with tables and chairs. Additionally, non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the day and a portable restroom is on-site. The cost for this airshow package is $55 for adults and kids under 4 are still FREE.
Boardwalk Hall claims to offers the best viewing option for the Air Show. Watch from Boardwalk Hall’s private covered outdoor space overlooking the Boardwalk and beach. Lunch will be provided by Continental AC. Plus, receive complimentary Coca-Cola soft drinks and water. But maybe best of all, this VIP airshow package offers access to Boardwalk Hall’s private restrooms and a parking space is included with tickets.
Still not sophisticated enough? View the show from a seat in the air-conditioned luxury of One Atlantic or grab a closer look from one of its terraces. Dine from an up-scale lunch menu and enjoy a cash bar. All for $100 per person.
Spend the night with a Rooftop Airshow BBQ Package offered by the Claridge. Chose from one and two-night packages. Both packages include oceanfront accommodations for two and late check-out with breakfast for two at Twenties American Bistro. If you are not planning to spend the night you can still attend the Rooftop Airshow Viewing Party for $50 for adults and $20 for kids.
The Local Experience
However, if you are so inclined, you can save yourself the headache of the mass exodus after the show by parking just outside the city in Ventnor and walk less than a mile down the boardwalk. Or you can just set up there for the day on the beach. You will need a beach badge for Ventnor. The cost for a weekly badge is $10 (sorry, no one-day passes) and can be purchased at the beach entrance.
If all the crowds and fanfare doesn’t appeal to you, get the ultra-local experience. The day before the big show, there is a practice run of the entire event. There are no announcers so if you want to know what aircraft you are seeing or any data about the planes, print out the show-day schedule available a day or so before in the Press of AC. Typically the rehearsal performance runs in the same order and on the same timeline as the actual show. With this, you should be reasonably able to determine what you are viewing.
No matter how or when you decide to watch the show, it is sure to WOW.