Air & Water Show goes on despite rain delays

August 20, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The show started on time at 10 a.m, but about 30 minutes later, Mother Nature put on its own show. Many spectators, however, were undeterred.

"We've got our umbrellas, backpacks, snacks -- we're good to go," said spectator Irma Sabala.

"We live for the air show. There's no running. We are here. We're going to wait for the planes," said spectator Tammy Pearl.

As aviation enthusiasts sought shelter from the storm, event organizers haulted the line-up.

"After a couple accidents we've had around the world in the last couple weeks, nobody wants to take any chances. So the primary factor is the safety of all our fans and safety of the aircraft," said Herb Hunter, voice of the Air & Water Show.

When the storms ended and the skies cleared, most of the scheduled daredevil military and civilian acts took center stage for a condensed show.

"It was definitely a lot of fun and definitely worth the wait," said spectator Justin Davidson.

"I love the Air & Water Show. I am a veteran. This is great, this is great. I love it," said spectator Kirkland Ellis.

The U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs performed, and the U.S. Army Golden Knights presented a team baton to Make A Wish Foundation recipient Johnny Klasen, 4, who is a heart patient.

"He is so excited to be here and we feel very honored. Johnny is a special boy and he thinks they are incredible," said Julie Klasen, Johnny's mother.

Saturday's shortened show wrapped up with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds spinning and flipping for the crowds.

"I mean it's just beautiful. They're just synchronized, and all the people, the scene, it's great," said spectator Jane Bodine.

"It just gives you that great spirit of national pride. I just love it," said spectator Mark Sabala.

Since Saturday's show was condensed due to bad weather, crowds could be even bigger than expected on Sunday. About 2.2 million people are estimated to attend the 53rd annual Chicago Air & Water Show over the weekend.

"Tomorrow, we got a full show starting at 10 a.m. and going to 3 o'clock so we're excited. So if you missed it today or you went home a little wet, please come back tomorrow for a great show," said David Kennedy, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

If you can't attend Sunday's show, which is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can also watch highlights of the Air & Water Show on ABC7 Sunday night. "Chicago's Top Guns: A Wet and Wild Weekend" airs at 10:35 p.m. It's hosted by Jerry Taft and Tracy Butler.

The show will also be available on demand at

For more information, visit

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.