50th Chicago Air and Water Show ends

August 18, 2008 9:17:13 AM PDT
The 50th annual Chicago Air and Water Show has come to an end, and the City of Chicago estimates that 3.1 million people took in the action over the last three days.

Sunday was a great day at the Air and Water Show, and the huge crowds were evidence of the show's success.

The air portion of the show began with a joint sky dive by the Navy Seals Leap Frogs and the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team bringing in the flag as the national anthem was heard in the background.

The Navy Seals were impressed by the parachute team's performance.

"This air show is awesome. It's huge. You see people up and down the beach. It's amazing. I've never seen this big of an air show," said Matt Syberg of the Navy Seals.

The 50th annual Chicago Air and Water Show appears to have been the most successful and crowded of them all. Throngs of people stretched out as far as the eye could see.

"This year just seemed so much more amazing. The planes in front of you. It's right there, and then the different maneuvers," fan and spectator Evelyn Fred said.

Also present Sunday were two of the original Tuskegee Airmen.

"We'll come back next year, too and have a good time," said former airman Robert Martin.

Former "Bachelor" star Andy Baldwin, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant, also attended the show to talk to people about careers in naval medicine and humanitarian air.

"The Navy is making a large push forward in making those planned missions to southeast Asia. Right now, one hospital ship is in New Guinea. Another is going to Latin America," Baldwin said.

Like all good things, the Chicago Air and Water 2008 came to an end. Closing the show to great acclaim were, of course, the very popular Blue Angels.

One reason for such high attendance numbers at the show is that the city added a third day last Friday, which is usually a preview day. ABC7 Chicago asked Mayor Daley's office if it would consider making the Friday show permanent. Officials said there were no plans yet to do so, but you never know.

Among the Air and Water Show performers:

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.

F-22 Raptor
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.

The Firebirds
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.

The Collaborators
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


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