Every year, thousands of people head to the coastal town of Atlantic City the last week in August — but not for the beach or casinos.
The Atlantic City Airshow is a treasured tradition in South Jersey. Every year, masses line the beach and the tops of casinos to catch glimpses of incredible aircrafts zooming by, performing stunts and creating awe-inspiring sights. This year will be no different.
What to expect at the 2019 Atlantic City Air Show
One of the aviation groups that perform, the Geico Skytypers (Geico is also the sponsor of the event) has been wowing spectators for years at the Airshow. The vintage airshow squadron travels around the country, but according to squadron commander and team flight lead Larry Arken, AC’s show is one of their favorite performances to take part in. Arken sat down with Metro to give us the scoop on what to expect from the Geico Skytypers and the AC Airshow this year.
When did you first get started in aviation and with the Geico Skytypers?
My dad actually started the business when I was a teenager, and that’s when I started flying the WarBirds with him. It originally started as a sky typing demonstration and then it morphed into airshows and aerial demonstrations. We still do the sky typing but performing is our passion.
What does the Geico Skytyper portion of the Airshow feature?
It’s an 18-minute low-level precision flying demonstration with aerobatics. We use six aircrafts, and our show is very similar to the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels in many ways, except it doesn’t have the intense aerobatics that they have — and that’s because the airplanes were built around the 1940s and 1950s. We do different formations — opposing passes, head-to-head passes with the two solos opposing the diamond formation, our bombast maneuver and our implosion maneuver which requires various breakouts. It’s very interesting to watch and it’s the precision that people love to watch. The show is slower and closer to you so everything that we do is in front of the crowd, so a lot of people really enjoy it.
What kind of training do you do to prepare?
The majority of the Airshow team pilots are former military aviators — they’re veterans. There are a few civilians on the team, but the average hours the pilots spend in the air are upwards of 8,000 to 10, 000 hours. All of the pilots on the team either professionally fly presently, or have in the past. The majority of us are also pilots from major airlines and we do this on the side. We need people that have talent.
You fly all around the country performing. Is there anything special about the AC Airshow?
It’s actually one of our favorites. There are just so many people that come out to watch the show and fill up the casinos. They always tell us how much they love it and how they come down every year [for it]. I mean, you’ll have half a million people on that beach. I bring the team over the top of those buildings and just before I make the first turn, I look at the beach and I go, “Oh my gosh, that beach is packed.” It’s a great show and a great venue. Plus, we are based out of New York, so it’s close to home for us.
Is there anything else you would want people to know about the Sky Typers or the Airshow?
We’ve been coming here for years and we constantly change up the routine to make it fun and interesting. Thank goodness for Geico for getting us here and letting us show off the vintage aircrafts. My father and these aircrafts were from the greatest generation and it is really a part of our heritage — these are the people that died for our freedom. So it’s an honor to fly these airplanes in front of many spectators and show them what an airplane like this can do in the sky. That being said, it’s just going to be a fabulous Airshow. The British Red Arrows will be making their first appearance in ten years performing at the show, plus the US Thunderbirds are just phenomenal and there are various other talented performers flying there as well. It’s just a great event to come out and watch and experience— we work very hard to make sure you’re impressed with what we do and we also want to promote aviation for the young people.
To learn more about the AC Air Show visit atlanticcitynj.com