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Thunderbirds, Golden Knights return for AC Airshow

One of the biggest draws of the Atlantic City Air Show returns next month. Both the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the Army Golden Knights flight teams will be performing in the Aug. 13 show.

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Members of the Army’s Golden Knights parachute into PNC Park before the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves in 2008. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, the CRDA, and members of the NJ Air National Guard announced the return of military participation in the show. The federal sequester prevented both groups from performing last year.

The annual air show, which is in its 12th year, drew close to 400,000 visitors last year. With the participation of the Thunderbirds and Golden Knights, attendance is expected to double.

“Estimated crowd the last time the Thunderbirds were here was 800,000,” said Joseph Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce.

The Airshow is a major economic engine for the Atlantic City area. The 2012 show had an economic impact of $42 million. Kelly said scheduling the shows during the midweek gives businesses a much-needed boost outside of the weekends.

“We’re told by boardwalk merchants it’s the best day they have all summer, even counting the summer,” Kelly said.

While Atlantic City is in the show’s moniker, the event and its impact goes beyond the city.

“The venue really starts in Brigantine, through Atlantic City, through Ventnor, all the way into Margate, and probably can be seen all the way in Ocean City,” Kelly said.

The Atlantic City Airshow is regarded as the largest over-the-ocean airshow in the country. Kelly tells potential Airshow visitors to plan for it like a day at the beach, noting spectators will likely be in the sun — so bring sunscreen and stay hydrated.

Atlantic City is epicenter of the show and parking will be available throughout the city.

“If you don’t want to hassle with the parking we do have remote parking at Bader Field, and we have jitneys that bring people to the boardwalk, it’s a great way to go,” Kelly said.

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