A.C. Airshow superfan

Dennis Painter poses next to a World War II training plane.


In the 15 years the Atlantic City Airshow has been running, Dennis Painter hasn’t missed a single one.

A self-proclaimed airshow geek, Painter, 55 of Port Republic, fell in love with high-flying aerobatics when he first attended an Atlantic City-based airshow called Transfair in the ‘70s. Since then he has jumped at any and all opportunities to see the planes in action and speak to the pilots that man them.

With the airshow approaching, Painter fills us in on why the A.C. Airshow is his favorite, how best to view the action and more.

ACW: What was your first experience at an airshow?

Dennis Painter: Transfair out in Atlantic City in 1977. I loved it immediately. A good friend of mine, his father worked out at the base. I had a blast that day.

A.C. Airshow

Painter first fell in love with aerobatics at 1977’s Transfair.


ACW: What about it appeals to you?

DP: Watching mainly the jets, but at some airshows you can tour the planes, you can speak to the pilots. It’s a fascination of mine.

ACW: Have you ever tried flying yourself?

DP: You could say yes, I was on a World War II training plane, and I got to sit in the front seat. There was a double stick in the plane, so the pilot was sitting behind me and he released control of the plane to me. I could actually fly it.

What you get to realize is, the maneuvers that you’re seeing on the ground, when you get to actually go up in the air, you’re remembering what you saw on the ground and how you actually experience it in the air. It’s another phenomenal feeling.

ACW: Are there any particular tricks or groups you like?

DP: Whenever the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds are there that’s always the highlight of the show, to watch those guys and know the amount of training that they do just to perform that is amazing.

The Thunderbirds are my favorite and Blue Angels are right there them. My father’s favorite was always the Blue Angels, though I never attended an airshow with him. When we talked about airshows, it always peaked his interested. He would always talk about the first time he had seen them (the Blue Angels). It was a bit of a bonding experience.

ACW: How many years have you been going to the A.C. Airshow?

DP: I’ve been to every airshow and every practice day, which happens the day before the airshow. Basically, the practice day is the airshow. The day is a lot nicer on the practice day because there’s not as many people there. I like going out and sitting at Bungalow Beach, that way I can order food and sit in a lounge chair and watch the show.

ACW: How have you seen the airshow change over the years?

DP: There’s been years that the weather is 100 percent perfect and the crowds have been really through the roof. There’s been other years that’s the crowd hasn’t been as big, but it’s always a fun day. If you had a cloudy day, which we had a couple years ago, it’s nice because there isn’t as many people and watching the maneuvers up in the air, you can see everything very clearly because the sun isn’t blinding you.

ACW: Do you have any kind of traditions associated with the A.C. Airshow?

DP: Not really, I pack my bag up get there at 8 in the morning, get my space, and sit back and relax for the day. I’ve gone with groups before, I’ve gone with just a few people. I do like going by myself because there’s a little bit more freedom to roam the boardwalk and talk to some of the pilots.

ACW: How does the A.C. Airshow compare to others you’ve gone to?

DP: The A.C. Airshow is the top. It’s more open. You lose the point of being able to see the planes on the ground, but you get a completely open area. And if it’s too hot during the day you can jump in the water.

ACW: Do you have any advice for people going to the airshow for the first time?

DP: Get there early, pack plenty of water and find yourself a spot.