Flying High and Skydiving into Ocean City

first_imgA gigantic American flag carried by the Fastrax professional skydiving team serves as a patriotic highlight for the air show in 2018. By Lisa SpenglerThis week’s wild ride of weather forecasts for Hurricane Florence was no match for the 2018 Ocean City Boardwalk Aerobatic Air Show held Sunday between Sixth Street and 14th Street.The two-hour spectacle, featuring some of the best stunt pilots and aerobatic champions in the world, laid claim to the wild week with spine-tingling, heart-racing midair death-defying rolls, twists and loops performed at breakneck speed. With temperatures in the upper 70s and tiny wisps of clouds in the sky, the beaches and Boardwalk looked like a mid-summer day as beachgoers soaked up the sun and crowds moved in and out of the Boardwalk shops and eateries. “The weather couldn’t have been more perfect,” said Doug Bergen, Ocean City public information officer. “People couldn’t wait to get back to Ocean City.”An aerobatic pilot uses smoke to outline the big loop he performs over the beach and Boardwalk.The Taylor family, from Hammonton, arrived early to ensure a front row spot on the Boardwalk.“We came for the show,” said Jim Taylor, who was accompanied by his wife, Lyndsay, and their sons, Blaise, 13, and Luke, 3, and their daughter, Brynlee, 8 months. “We’re so excited, and what a beautiful day.”A sense of excitement and anticipation could be felt from the crowd as a plane carrying the Fastrax professional skydiving team circled overhead and dropped two parachutists into a free-fall to kick off the show.But it was when another pair of jumpers exited the plane at 6,000 feet that things really started to happen. Bikers stopped biking. Walkers stopped walking. The crowd was at a standstill. All eyes turned upward toward the skies. As country singer Toby Keith’s song, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” played over the loud speakers, gasps and then applause could be heard from the spectators as the second pair of jumpers released a 7,800-square-foot American flag. It was one of the largest flags in the world carried by a skydiver. The patriotic-themed skydiving display by the Fastrax jumpers continued as the National Anthem played while the team descended toward the beach.The same sense of patriotism and exhilaration from Sunday’s performance by Fastrax was felt Saturday during a spectacular nighttime jump by the team. The jump was complete with red and blue fiber-optic jumpsuits, white and multi-colored pyrotechnics and fireworks-type projectiles that lit up the sky.The maneuvers performed by the Redline Aerobatic Team were just a teaser to what they would do later in the show. As the two pilots flew in formation, “oohs” and “ahhs” could be heard with every upside-down turn and twist. Spiraling side by side and performing bone-tingling stunts, they had the crowd on the edge of their seats during the entire performance.The Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demonstration was a highlight for many. The spectators packed along the beach had an up-close view as the Coast Guard rescue swimmer jumped from a helicopter into the strong waves being kicked up by the helicopter rotors. The crowd applauded as the rescue specialists raised the sling and brought everyone safely back to the aircraft.A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter begins its search and rescue demonstration as beachgoers look on.Joining air boss David Schultz, from David Schultz Airshows, was Caroline Dougherty, who provided commentary for her father’s stunt flying routine. Paul Dougherty pushed over 200 mph as he performed barrel rolls, 360-degree turns and flipped tail over tail above the ocean.Paul Dougherty continued his maneuvers even as he spoke live over the Boardwalk loud speakers, thanking the crowd for coming out to Ocean City and watching the show. David Windmiller, in his Edge 540, had the crowd mesmerized as he performed a free-falling, corkscrew dive through the trail of smoke he created in his climb. For the thousands of people soaking up the sun on the beach, Windmiller’s incredible, riveting performance likely provided them with a day they will not forget. The talk of the score of the Eagles game was hushed as Mark Murphy’s FG-1D Corsair “Godspeed” came into view from the south. The sight of the beautifully restored aircraft brought a round of applause from the crowd.Four planes are grouped in tight formation while showing off their precision flying.As the Redline Aerobatic Team closed the air show in formation while performing a barrel roll, final preparations were being made for a wedding on the 11th Street beach. It may have started as a wild week of weather forecasts, but thankfully it ended as a beautiful Sunday for the bride and groom and for the visitors and locals who came out for the Ocean City Aerobatic Air Show. The air show is just one of the special events Ocean City has planned throughout the fall. Visit www.ocnjdaily.com, www.ocnj.us and www.oceancityvacation.com for a complete list of events.Big crowds pack the beaches and Boardwalk for the two-hour air show.Video courtesy Ian Crowleylast_img

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