Atlantic City Airshow: Thunder Over the Boardwalk: One of Summer’s Best Free Events

I can’t think of a better way to experience the sun, surf and the sonic boom of an F-22 Raptor airplane than the 2018 Atlantic City Airshow: Thunder over the Boardwalk. If this sounds like a near perfect day to you, as it does to me, read on.

I lived in Ventnor, NJ, the town bordering on Atlantic City for 10 years. I am a past volunteer for the show so I would say this qualifies me to give the inside scoop on making the most of Thunder Over the Boardwalk.

Edited 7/31/2018 to update for the 2018 Air Show

3 planes

What’s New for 2018

There have been a number of changes for 2018 that should be noted. The first change and in my opinion, it’s a big one: there will be no Salute to the Armed Forces Parade the evening before the show. Sadly, it seems that with the 2015 passing of the Pinky Kravitz, local media personality and parade founder, the parade has gone by the wayside.

Next, in previous years there has been a shuttle bus which allowed spectators to park in a lot outside the city and be shuttled in. The shuttle will not run this year. You will need to park at one of the lots in the city. You can find all the details on parking here. The cost to park will vary and are set by the lot owner.

However, if you are so inclined, you can save yourself the headache of the mass exodus after the show by parking just outside the city in Ventnor and walk less than a mile down the boardwalk. Or you can just set up there for the day on the beach. You will need a beach badge for Ventnor. The cost for a weekly badge is $10 and can be purchased at the beach entrance.

Experience one of summer's best free events in Atlantic City like a local. Get insider tips on the Atlantic City Airshow: Thunder Over the Boardwalk. #ACAirshow #DoAC #Thunderovertheboardwalk Click To Tweet

What to Expect

The big event, the Atlantic City Airshow: Thunder Over The Boardwalk is August 22nd, with the first fly-by scheduled for 12 PM. The show always offers a day of thrills. You can expect the Army Golden Knights open the show by flying “Old Glory” while executing parachute jumps.

Beach UmbrellasThroughout the day, there will be aerobatic performances by the GEICO Skytypers. Plus, see the MISS GEICO Speedboat Race with Skytypers. Expect a flyby of a New Jersey State Police choppers and Philadelphia’s own Chopper 6. The NJ Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing will execute passes in an F-16 (squeal). This year’s show will feature the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. Finally, the US Airforce Thunderbirds will close out the day around 4 PM. (more squealing and ooohing and aaahing).

Parachuter 1There are a number of vantage points from which to view the show. If you are lucky enough to own a boat or have a friend or family member who does, position yourself in front of Boardwalk Hall for a view from the ocean. Note: Bring a portable radio to listen to the broadcast, as you will be unable to hear the commentators from shore.

3 planes 1If you are staying on land, to make the most of the event you will want to arrive early. Bring your sunscreen, beach chairs, and an umbrella. Find a spot on the beach near Boardwalk Hall and plant yourself for the day. This is where the action happens and you won’t have trouble hearing the commentator. The locals and repeat attendees know this, so they will claim the prime real estate early. Bonus: Atlantic City beaches are one of the few free beaches left in New Jersey.


Airshow Packages

Not up for all that sun? Purchase Flight Line Club seating. No sitting on the ground (unless you want to) and no sand in your sandwich. As a Club member, you have beach seating and all you can eat lunch in a tented area with tables and chairs. Additionally, non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the day and a portable restroom is on-site. The cost is $55 for adults and kids under 4 are now FREE.


Get the insider scoop on one of summer's best free events in Atlantic City; The Atlantic City Airshow: Thunder Over the Boardwalk. #ACAirshow #DoAC #Thunderovertheboardwalk Click To Tweet

Boardwalk Hall claims to offers the best viewing option for the Air Show.  Watch from Boardwalk Hall’s private covered outdoor space overlooking the Boardwalk and beach. Lunch will be provided by Continental AC. Plus, receive complimentary Coca-Cola soft drinks and water. But maybe best of all, you will have access to Boardwalk Hall’s private restrooms and a parking space is included with tickets.

CG Chopper

Still not sophisticated enough? View the show from a seat in the air-conditioned luxury of One Atlantic or grab a closer look from one of its terraces. Dine from an up-scale lunch menu and enjoy a cash bar. All for $100 per person.

Spend the night with a Rooftop Airshow BBQ Package offered by the Claridge. Chose from one and two-night packages starting at $259 per night. Both packages include oceanfront accommodations for two with complimentary resort fees, two meals and two non-alcoholic beverages with your BBQ package and late check-out with breakfast for two at Twenties American Bistro.

The Local Experience

If all the crowds and fanfare doesn’t appeal to you, get the authentic local experience. The day before the big show, there is a practice run of the entire event. There are no announcers so if you want to know what aircraft you are seeing or any data about the planes, print out the show day schedule. Typically the rehearsal performance runs in the same order and on the same timeline as the actual show. With this, you should be reasonably able to determine what you are viewing.

No matter how or when you decide to watch the show, it is sure to WOW.





Susan Decoteau-Ferrier

Travel writer/blogger, photographer. Avid potter and wanna-be artist. Wife, Mom to 6 fur kids, gardener, coffee snob.


  1. My family would love to visit this air show.

  2. Sounds like a fun event and I loved your pictures. Especially the one of the adorable bull dog 😀

  3. This seems like so much fun! My dad would love this 🙂

  4. Your experience with this event really shows. You provide great suggestions and insider knowledge that is great for anyone attending the event!

  5. It sounds like a great event to attend. Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Love Airshows and all things Military, maybe I am prejudiced since I am retired Military. What MC Group is that, The Patriot Guard?

  7. Thank you for posting this! It is chockablock full of great information. I’m just down in Delaware, and you’ve made me want to drive up to experience this!

  8. Sounds fun, Susan! I think I’d go with your suggestion for the day prior and avoid all the crowds. 🙂 And I second the Chickie and Pete’s recommendation! We have one in King of Prussia and it’s great.

  9. I love airshows. We have a great one here in San Diego. Blue Angels are always my favorite! Great overview of the Thunder Boardwalk event!

    • I love the Blue Angels. They are always a favorite. This show has had the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds perform together. Quite performance. I have had the pleasure of meeting pilots from both. Fascinating.

  10. Great information. I grew up in a Navy town and love watching air shows. And what better location to see an air show and a parade than the boardwalk of Atlantic City.

  11. Love going to events like this when I’m traveling and great to see the tips. Good to know the light show takes place afterwards since I wouldn’t want to miss it.

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