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Blue Angels blasting into Atlantic City Airshow

ATLANTIC CITY — Consider it a Hail Mary in the world of airshows.

U.S. airshows get a checklist of military acts that may be available each year. Big-name flight teams and powerful jet fly-bys can mean huge attendance boosts.
The annual Atlantic City Airshow, which takes place Wednesday, aims high.
“We basically ask for all of them,” said Joe Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber, which produces the show.
It paid off this year.
For the first time since 2006, the show scored the high-profile Navy Blue Angels, who fly six blue-and-gold F/A-18 Hornets a few inches more than a football’s length apart.
Blue Angel pilots come with serious credentials.
Lt. Commander Mark Tedrow was deployed aboard the USS Ronald Reagan to support Operation Enduring Freedom, has 2,200 flight hours and landed on aircraft carriers more than 200 times.
Lt. Matt Suyderhoud has landed on every aircraft carrier in the Navy.
The Blue Angels’ executive officer is Commander Bob Flynn, a native of Moorestown, Burlington County, who was also a military professor and a Bronze Star recipient.
The Atlantic City Airshow also got the Army Golden Knights parachute team and an Air Force F-22 demonstration, which is participating in only about 20 airshows this year.
The military acts require the most notice — the chamber puts in requests nearly one and a half years in advance, Kelly said.
This establishes them as the backbone of other aerial performances, such as the GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team that flies six vintage World War II aircraft.
Kelly said the airshow keeps a flexible schedule that helps attract more acts.
“In some cases, if we were to get a call and say, ‘Hey, there’s a chance to have a demo of this aircraft,’ we have the flexibility to add that to the show if we think it adds value,” he said.
The show’s high profile helps it secure performances with corporate sponsors.
Kelly said the presentation fees — what they pay the performers — usually fall between $20,000 and $40,000.
This number is low because many acts have corporate sponsors that subsidize the performances, particularly at large-viewership shows such as Atlantic City’s, Kelly said.
Midweek scheduling also helps, he said.
The airshow takes place Wednesday, but physical preparations started this weekend. They include more than 80 rental vehicles to support the acts, said show coordinator David Schultz, president of Clearfield, Pennsylvania-based David Schultz Airshows LLC.
The Blue Angels alone have about 100 support personnel, he said. The Angels will fly into Atlantic City International Airport on Sunday; the Golden Knights and their team will fly in Sunday and Monday, he said.
Buoys will be placed in the ocean Monday and Tuesday as ground markers for flight crews.
Schultz, whose company will coordinate 48 shows this year, said they maintain a majestic draw for spectators.
“We’ve had man-powered flight for over 110 years, and still to this day, when an airplane flies over, people look up,” he said. “There’s imagination and inspiration with aviation. Airshows are about inspiring people to grow beyond their normal means.”
And if you miss the Atlantic City Airshow, you won’t have to wait long for another local one.
Ocean City’s Boardwalk Aerobatic Airshow is Sept. 13.

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