Atlantic City Airshow 2022
For each of nineteen years, more than 500,000 spectators have been drawn to the midweek beachfront Atlantic City Airshow. This year’s show took place on Wednesday, August 24 and was “A Salute to Those Who Serve.”
At 11:30 am, the U.S. Army Golden Knights opened the show with an American flag jump and national anthem, landing on the beach at show center. To the delight of the crowd; employing smoke canisters for effect, the remaining nine jumpers left the aircraft in a mass exit, filling the sky with U.S. Army yellow and black parachutes.
Roaring in from their home base at Atlantic City International Airport, four 177th Fighter Wing F-16s thundered up the beach in echelon formation. On their next pass, three of the jets joined on a McGuire AFB 108th ARW KC-135 in a simulated aerial refueling. As the tanker and jets exited show center, from behind, the fourth F-16 rocketed over the crowd in an afterburner sneak pass. This NJ ANG composite has been a crowd favorite since the show’s inception.
The New Jersey State Guard showed off some of their capabilities with a NJ Army National Guard SPIES/FRIES demonstration. The NJ ANG and Army NG supports the citizens of New Jersey by protecting life and property when called upon by the state’s governor. The guard also provides combat ready citizen-soldiers and airmen with aircraft and equipment for worldwide deployments with a motto- “Local To Global.” From behind the crowd, dozens of Army soldiers from New Jersey’s 1-150th Assault Helicopter Battalion were hooked onto long static lines dangling from two NJ ANG UH-60’s. The exercise demonstrated to the audience how the Army inserts and extracts these brave warriors.
More helicopters from local TV affiliate NBC 10, Atlantic Medical and the NJ State Police whirled by the beach-goers. A 1st HS UH-1N twin Huey and a 3-ship formation of USN MH-53 Super Stallions represented the US military.
Stationed at Atlantic City International Airport, aircraft from the FAA’s William J Hughes center flew by the beach as well as a single-ship USCG MH-65D Dauphin executing a SAR demo. New this year, were several passes by a 552nd ACW E-3C Sentry from Tinker AFB, OK. The 552nd Air Control Wing provides in-theater, combat-ready air and ground battle management through the world’s premier airborne and ground battle platform- the E-3C Sentry AWAC.
Also debuting at Atlantic City this year was an exciting two-ship T-6 Texan tandem demo performed by Jim Beasley Jr. and Ed Shipley. For more than twenty years, Beasley and Shipley have each accumulated thousands of acrobatic flying hours in a variety of vintage aircraft. T-6 Texans were used to train pilots dating from World War II. The two pilots flying in close unison, just feet apart from one another, made multiple loop and roll maneuvers. Their routine was so tight, they appeared as a mirror image! Beasley later returned to fly a single-ship dynamic-demo in his P-51 Mustang. With the recognizable whine of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, the crowd could feel the power from this famous warbird. Another WWII era plane, Chris Thomas in his SNJ-2, flew next followed by the aerobatics of Paul Dougherty in his Eagle and the “Full Throttle Formation Team.”
Appearing at Atlantic City for the first time in five years was the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18F Super Hornet. Atlantic City was only one of nine show sites the East Coast Demo “Rhino” Team performed this year. The “Rhino” Super Hornet is a multi-role strike fighter. The demo team, from VFA-106 at NAS Oceana, VA, flew close to the “edge of the envelope” while highlighting the jet’s power and maneuvers used during combat training and fighting. At the conclusion of their demo, a FG-1D Corsair joined on the F/A-18F. The USN Legacy Flight displays to the public the dedication of naval aviators as well as a tradition of naval aviation heritage.
For nineteen years, it has been the USAF Thunderbirds performing the show’s grand finale. And once again, the Thunderbirds, in their F-16 Fighting Falcons, lit up the beach. The team, made up of some of the best pilots in the USAF, offered a routine of formation and solo flying that included multiple high-speed surprise sneak passes.
Next year’s show is scheduled for Wednesday August 16.