We are very proud to have the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds back this year. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have been astounding audiences since 1953 with their commanding presence and precision flying in their F-16 Fighting Falcons. As role models for men and women of all ages the Thunderbirds are a select group of Air Force Pilots who perform intricate maneuvers as close as 18 inches apart and often approaching the speed of sound. They represent the skills and techniques demanded of every Air Force pilot and are considered a "mirror image" of every front-line fighter pilot. Since 1953, more than 325 million people in all 50 states and more than 60 countries have witnessed the elite cadre of American pilots, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, breathtaking performance.
Also headlining and celebrating their 50th anniversary at the Air and Water show are the brave men and women of the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights. Jumping out of an aircraft 12,500 feet above the earth's surface, racing to North Avenue Beach 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 47 years, the U.S. Army Parachute team has amazed and thrilled audiences with their precision parachute demonstrations in more than 14,000 shows in all 50 states and 48 countries.
Strong in tradition and one of the world's premier aviation events, the show also includes a wide array of military and civilian acts. This year's civilian lineup includes the AeroShell Aerobatic Team, four pilots flying in the WWII North American Advanced Trainer; The Firebirds, flying in two Extra 300/s monoplanes; the six-plane Lima Lima Flight Team in the T-34 Mentor; daredevil pilot Sean Tucker and Team Oracle catapulting across the sky in the one-of-a-kind Oracle Challenger; Ed Hamill and his Air Force Reserve biplane will dance across the sky executing exhilarating choreography; The U.S. Navy Leap Frog Parachute Team is a fifteen-man team comprised entirely of U.S. Navy SEAL andSWCC commandos renowned for exciting and complex formations; the Red Bull MiG flown by pilot Bill Reesman; and finally, the Red Bull Helicopter piloted by daredevil Chuck Aaron.
Celebrating his 22nd 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. Hunter, a 747 pilot for a major airline, flew for 9 years in the show as a military pilot before becoming the show's announcer 22 years ago. Play-by-play coverage of the show will air on WBBM-AM Newsradio 780 on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Also, a thirty-minute highlight show "Chicago's Top Guns" will air on ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV) on Sunday, August 16 at 10:35PM. Jerry Taft and Tracy Butler recap the weekend's events. The program will be rebroadcast on Sunday, August 16 at 10:30 p.m.
The Chicago Air and Water Show is free to the public and made possible by presenting sponsor Shell Oil Products U.S., and these additional sponsors: The Boeing Company, ABC 7 Chicago, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, WBBM Newsradio 780, American Airlines, Oracle, Pepsi-Cola, Chicago Tribune, Hinckley Springs, Communications Direct, CTA, LaGrou Distribution System, M&M Graphics and Gallo Wines.
The Mayor's Office of Special Events encourages taking public transportation to all lakefront festivals and events. Please call (312) 836-7000/TTY (312) 836-4949 for information on RTA, CTA, PACE, and Metra. For help planning your trip to Chicago, visit www.explorechicago.org.
For more information on the Chicago Air and Water Show, please call the Mayor's Office of Special Events at (312) 744-3370, TTY (312) 744-2964 or visit the web at www.chicagoairandwatershow.us. Become a fan of the Chicago Air and Water Show on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/marylmay.