Wednesday morning started out cloudy and damp at the beach in Atlantic City but transformed into a perfect day for the 12th annual Atlantic City Air Show, aka Thunder Over the Boardwalk.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators, ranging from retired gunners and know-it-all aviation enthusiasts to 6-year-old kids and their skimpily bikinied moms, turned out to watch the awe-inspiring demonstrations.
I wound up in the VIP sponsor tent (they call them "chalets") of Center City litigator Jim Beasley, who flew a T-6 Texan as well as a Spitfire in the show. We don't have Beasley video from Wednesday's air show yet, but here's Beasley flying the Spitfire earlier this year.
In addition to a top-shelf open bar, Beasley's tent sported none other than former State Senator Vince Fumo, who looked pretty good, especially considering his recent health battles and time spent in federal prison.
And while he may be 71, Fumo was on his phone like a 16-year-old.
Fumo and I discussed the possibility of him reentering public service. "No way," he told me. "Absolutely not. I'm just doing some consulting these days." (And if you're wondering, no, traveling to New Jersey is not a violation of Fumo's parole since a federal judge recently ruled that he could travel freely in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.)
Then he told me a bit of history about the Harrier Jet, the vertical-take-off-and-landing engineering marvel used by the United States Marines. Earlier, we had seen one fly into the viewing area, come to a dead stop, and then hover over the Atlantic Ocean. The pilot showed off by slowly spinning in place. This a jet with a top speed of nearly 700 mph — just stopping in midair in front of us. Nothing short of amazing.
Other highlights from the show included Beasley's stunt flying (hint: If Beasley ever invites you up in a plane with him, politely decline unless you are the type of person who is first in line for the newest, biggest roller coaster), the jumpers from the U.S. Army Golden Knights, and the magnificent United States Air Force Thunderbirds team, which screamed overhead and demonstrated "tactical surprise," which basically means that you don't hear or see a thing until it's way too late. Below, video from the Thunderbirds' presentation. I'm glad they're on our side.