Military jet teams will headline the Atlantic City Airshow for the next two years, bringing certainty to the city’s signature event that draws hundreds of thousands to the resort.
Following this year’s more low-key event devoid
of a major crowd-attracting performance, organizers have landed the U.S.
Air Force Thunderbirds for a show Aug. 13, 2014, temporarily moving the
event back to late summer.
The following year will feature the
return of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, who have not been a part of the
Atlantic City show since 2006. The 2015 airshow will be held May 27, the
earliest date in its modern run.
“Atlantic City has
traditionally been a Thunderbirds show. They consider Atlantic City
their East Coast home,” said airshow boss David Schultz, whose company
organizes the show each year. “The Blue Angels really badly wanted to
come back to Atlantic City. … We’re trying to keep things fresh with
bringing the blues back.”
Federal budget cuts grounded the teams
this year, though scheduling conflicts had already left Atlantic City
without a 2013 headlining jet team when the cutbacks were announced.
Organizers filled the gap with civilian performances, but crowds were
nowhere near as strong as in years past.
Atlantic City emergency
management officials estimated 400,000 people watched the 2013 show from
Atlantic City’s beaches and Boardwalk, compared with an estimated
908,000 in 2012. Unlike many shows, Atlantic City’s event — one of the
largest in North America — is free and unticketed, leaving sometimes
disputed police estimates as the only overall gauge of attendance.
show, which kicked off its modern run in 2003, moved to a June date in
2013 in an effort to draw crowds back to the shore early in the summer
following Hurricane Sandy. That move, however, was met with mixed
results from business owners who preferred the late summer date.
Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber, which sponsors
the show, said he just recently received word that the Thunderbirds
would be returning to Atlantic City. The jet teams’ schedules are
traditionally announced during the International Council of Air Shows
conference, which recently concluded in Las Vegas. The U.S. Army Golden
Knights parachute team has also been confirmed for 2014, he said, adding
that most Atlantic City stakeholders hadn’t yet been contacted about
“We’re thrilled to have a headliner back. We’re
going to see more of a traditional show,” Kelly said. “After doing
something in the marketplace for more than 10 years, consistency is
Schultz said much discussion went into the decision
to book the Blue Angels for an early 2015 show — including the fact that
the team will already be in the area in May for the U.S. Naval Academy
“We wired the schedule directly with the Blue
Angels. The Thunderbirds were in the room, too, so they’re aware of it
as well,” Schultz said. “That was the best Wednesday (the Blue Angels)
could do, and it will kick off the summer season. Atlantic City is going
to be a very busy place at the end of May 2015.”
The last time
the Blue Angels came to Atlantic City was in 2006, when the city booked
both the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds in a single year. Schultz said
he had doubted a double-headliner in Atlantic City was possible but
alluded to the potential for future announcements.
“The way the
military structure is right now, you won’t see both teams,” Schultz
said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t have my hands up my sleeve trying to
pull out something else at either show. We’ll see what happens.”
to be decided is the remainder of the lineup for the 2014 show. In
years past, the lineups have included a number of military flybys, but
federal budget cutbacks may still leave some military aircraft out of
the mix. Those gaps can be filled with civilian performers, but that
increases the cost of the show, as civilian teams are traditionally more
expensive to book than military acts.
The Navy has said it will
not have single-aircraft demonstrations in 2014, and some U.S. Marine
Corps demonstrations will be limited, Schultz said.
“There’s some sequestration play in the mix there. We’re still working with the Pentagon on that,” Schultz said.
recent years, tourism officials have made an effort to schedule other
events around the show, giving visitors more options for activities in
the hopes that people stay for multiple days. Those events haven’t been
set, but Kelly said he expects to work with the Atlantic City Alliance
on a schedule.
A study by Atlantic Cape Community College’s
Center for Regional and Business Research estimated the economic impact
of the 2012 event at $42.5 million.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
|UNDATED: This photo courtesy of the Collings Foundation, shows a Buffalo, N.Y.-built American fighter that’s one of the few remaining still-airworthy planes to survive the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (AP)|
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
The missing man flyover at Pearl Harbor is a tradition USS Arizona and National Park Service historian Daniel Martinez has witnessed every December 7 since 1985.
"When you see that aircraft apart in that missing man formation, every one of us individualize what that means," he said.
But that emotion won't be there this year. The F-22 Raptors piloted by the Hawaii Air National Guard are under orders not to perform.
"There have been restrictions on all kinds of flyovers across the country. We were not able to get an exception of policy to do this one," Hawaii National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony said.
Pearl Harbor survivors are understandably upset.
"I'm totally disgusted. The one day of the year when we're honoring our military from World War II," said retired U.S. Army Sgt. Allen Bodenlos.
"Every year I watch for the flight. I have those flights on the camera. To not see a flyover, I can't imagine," said Delton Walling, who was aboard the USS Pennsylvania when Japan attacked in 1941.
Anthony had hoped the Secretary of the Air Force would let the Guard do the flyover since the F-22's will already be in the air flying a $70,000 training exercise. Adding the flyover would have added some cost.
"There's so much money being spent for other things. I think this is very important. I don't see the reason why we can't spend the money for it," Ohio resident Nancy Wolverton said.
In place of the fighter jets, two vintage training aircraft from World War II will soar above Pearl Harbor in a fly by. Veterans agree at least it's something.
"They're honoring the vets and that'll be great," Walling said.
"That I'll enjoy," said Bodenlos.
"We recognize that at this point it doesn't look like this is going to change anytime soon, and these vets deserve better than what we're giving them right now. So we're going to do a better job, hopefully for you next year," vintage aircraft pilot Harry Greene said.
The Air Guard hopes it will have the honor back next December 7. Right now it doesn't look good.
"My understanding is that the Air Force has not approved any exceptions to policy since sequestration kicked in," Anthony said.
Until Washington gives the thumbs up, missing man flyovers over Hawaii skies will be a thing of the past.
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