"Weather couldn't be more perfect. It's not too hot. It's not cold. It's great," said Karyn Jeske of Crystal Lake.
In the Air and Water show's "Orchestra Section" at North Avenue beach, it was standing room only. The weather, which was described as 'perfect,' caused more than a few recession-weary area residents to seek out this weekend's free entertainment on the lakefront.
"Lot of good times. Lots of drinks. Good people. Good times," Carol Stream's Bill Digristina said.
" The air and water show is always a blast. So, any time we get a chance, we go for it," said Angelo Lucas of Richton Park.
The show was visible all over downtown and from the near North, West and South Sides. However, to see the acrobatics on the water, onlookers had to be on or near the lakefront, and they had to get there early.
"I like to just watch the people. So, that's what I'll be doing all day, watching the people, the boats and the airplanes," said Jeske.
The favorite attraction this year, as usual, were the warplanes roaring by the roaring crowd.
"My favorite part is the jets going down low, getting back high again, all the maneuvers," said Richton Park's Wanda Lucas.
Fortunately for the appreciative viewers on the lakefront, the jets were unarmed and not doing everything that they were built to do.
At the end of the day, Chicago was set to celebrate the whole thing over again Sunday.
Schedule for Saturday, August 16 and Sunday, August 17:
- Water Show begins at 9 a.m.
- Air Show runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Getting to the Festival
The Chicago Air & Water Show runs Friday, August 15 through Sunday, August 17 along the lakefront from Oak Street Beach to Fullerton. The best viewing location will be at North Avenue Beach. The Chicago Transit Authority is offering extra service for the event.
Additional buses will be in service beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday and 7 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday on the #72 North and #151 Sheridan routes, which operate close to all the activities. To avoid traffic congestion, #72 buses will only travel as far as North and Clark instead of continuing east to North Avenue Beach.
Customers traveling on Metra may take #151 buses from Union Station and Millennium Park Metra station (formerly Randolph Street) to Oak Street and North Avenue beaches.
Buses on the #145 Wilson/Michigan Express, #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express and #147 Outer Drive Express routes operate to Michigan and Delaware, within walking distance of Oak Street Beach. Riders can also take the #22 Clark or #36 Broadway routes to North and Clark, within walking distance of North Avenue Beach.
To avoid street traffic altogether, spectators can reach the Air & Water Show on Red Line trains from subway stations at Chicago/State or Clark/Division, which are both just a few blocks away from Oak Street Beach.
Capacity will be added to Brown Line trains throughout the weekend.
Additional Customer Assistants will be on hand at all downtown rail stations to assist customers with fare and travel information.
For Drivers: If you must drive, remember the parking lot at North Ave. is closed, and parking in the immediate area is extremely limited. Drivers should go to the Millennium, or Monroe Street Garage's in Grant Park, a quick walk to the lakefront or CTA connections at Michigan and Randolph.
For CTA, RTA and Metra travel routes, call 836-7000 in all Chicagoland area codes or go to transitchicago.com
U.S. Navy Blue Angels
Since 1946 the Blue Angels have thrilled more than 427 million fans with their precision through choreographed aerobatic and high altitude performance maneuvers. In their F/A 18 Hornets, the Blue Angels flight demonstration team exhibits choreographed refinements of skills possessed by all naval aviators. It includes the graceful aerobatic maneuvers of the four-plane Diamond Formation, in concert with the fast-paced, high-performance maneuvers of its two Solo Pilots. Finally, the team illustrates the pinnacle of precision flying, performing maneuvers locked as a unit in the renowned, six-jet Delta Formation.
U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights
Jumping out of an aircraft 12,500 feet about the earth's surface, racing to the ground at speeds exceeding 120 mph and landing with smiles, ready to do it all again; all in a days work for the Golden Knights. For more than 44 years, the U.S. Army Parachute team has amazed and thrilled with their precision parachute demonstrations in more than 14,000 shows in all 50 states and 48 countries.
The F-22 Raptor is the Air Force's newest and most advanced fighter. Its combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. The F-22A cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft in the world.
U.S. Navy Leap Frogs Parachute Team
The U.S. Navy Parachute Team is a fifteen-man team comprised entirely of U.S. Navy SEAL and SWCC commandos. Leap Frogs jump at an altitude of 12,500 feet. During free fall, jumpers reach speeds of 120 mph and can accelerate up to 180. After deploying their chutes, the Leap Frogs are renowned for exciting and complex formations such as downplanes, sideplanes, dragplanes, diamonds, big stacks, tri-by-sides, and T formations.
Aero Shell Aerobatic Team
The Aero Shell Aerobatic Team consists of four pilots flying formation aerobatics in the WWII North American Advanced Trainer. Thrilling audiences everywhere since 1985, the team fly these valiant old birds through a series of precision formation aerobatic maneuvers including their bomb burst and avalanche along with graceful loops and rolls.
NEW! The Firebirds first appearance in Chicago will bring high energy precision formation and radical extreme style flying over the lakefront. In their two Walter Extra 300 S monoplanes, the firebirds have one goal, unlimited aerobatics. The Firebirds execute all of today's wildest gyroscopic maneuvers with a team format.
Lima Lima Flight Team
The six-plane Lima Lima Flight Team stresses precision formation flying. At air shows around the country the team demonstrates the full range of the T-34 Mentor with a series of formation aerobatic maneuvers. The Naperville based team has thrilled more than 100 million spectators with the beauty and grace of there precision performance.
Sean Tucker & Team Oracle
Each time daredevil pilot Sean Tucker catapults across the sky in the one-of-a-kind Oracle Challenger, he makes the plane do things that seem impossible like flying backwards at speeds up to 100 mph. Millions of air show fans are kept on the edge of their seats as they watch Tucker perform his original "Sky Dance" featuring his signature maneuvers. It's clear why he is a 2008 Aviation Hall of Fame inductee.
Bill Leff Airshows
Bill Leff dazzles audiences in his restored T-6 Texan flown during the Korean conflict. Like no other war-bird act, Bill provides dramatic aerobatics and nonstop thrills with rolls, loops and Cuban 8's. On Friday, August 15, he will fly his unique night show with a dazzling pyrotechnic display and streams of sparkling light in sync with music that is sure to bring the crowd to their feet.
Shell Extreme Watershow
The Shell Extreme WaterShow is sure to amaze the masses with the hottest pro freestyle tour on the water. This extreme sporting event features some of the world's finest wave riders competing for the "coolest move" and the "best wipe-out". The Munson Ski & Inboard Water Sports "Ski Show Team"will also present a thrilling water ski and wakeboard show while coasting through the waters of Lake Michigan.
Herb Hunter - The Voice of the Chicago Air and Water Show
Celebrating his 21st year as "the voice", Herb Hunter utilizes his many years of experience as a military pilot and as a captain for one of the major airlines. Herb clearly explains every aerobatic maneuver performed, enhancing the audiences understanding and enjoyment of the event.
Led by Sean D. Tucker, the Collaborators are a fusion of his high performance solo flying and graceful, formation team aerobatics. The new four-plane act presented by Airshowbuzz.com, makes its Chicago debut this year. The Collaborators includes Tucker in the Oracle Challenger biplane along with his son, Eric, flying an Extra 300L; Bill Stein flying an Edge 540; and Ben Freelove, also in an Extra 300L.
Information from CityofChicago.org