A new report by Atlantic Cape Community College's Center for Regional and Business Research confirms the importance of the Atlantic City Airshow.

The report by the center's director, Richard Perniciaro, said the 2012 show drew a crowd of more than 900,000 people, making it the largest airshow in the tri-state area and one of the largest in the country.

Of those attendees, 289,095 were people from outside the area who otherwise would not have been in Atlantic City on the day of the show, the study said. They brought with them money for food, lodging and gambling. Using the most conservative crowd estimates available, the report credited the show with pumping $42.5 million into the local economy.

Perniciaro's report puts numbers to something we've all known - that the airshow is one of the most important and successful events the city has.

And it continues to grow. The last time an economic impact analysis was done, in 2008, it showed that the show drew 180,000 people from outside the area who came specifically for the show.

Last year, organizers moved the show to a Friday to accommodate the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. This year, the show will return to midweek - when special events have more of an impact - and will move from August to late June. The other big change this year is that the Thunderbirds were unavailable and will be absent for the first time since the airshow was revived in 2003.

Here's hoping that the date change and the lack of a headlining precision military jet team won't slow the airshow's momentum, especially since it is the best example of the kind of family-friendly events Atlantic City needs. As the report points out, aside from its economic impact, the airshow is a great way to showcase the city, its Boardwalk and its beaches.

Two years ago, the city piggybacked on the airshow's success by creating the Atlantic City Salutes the Armed Forces Parade as a lead-in event.

The Greater Atlantic City Chamber, which organizes the airshow, plans to deal with the absence of the Thunderbirds by reinventing the show a bit - offering more full demonstrations of many of the aircraft, rather than just fly-bys.

That seems like a great idea. Full demonstrations will include a U.S. Marine Corps Harrier - an attack jet that can take off vertically - and an F-22 Raptor - a stealth jet considered the ultimate fighter plane, as well as other planes and the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team.

These demonstrations will give returning attendees something new and should help the airshow meet its goal of getting better every year.


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