Chicago’s Air and Water Show

Article provided by the Daily Herald.

“There is no sport equal to that which aviators enjoy while being carried through the air on great white wings.”

The weather is expected to be warm, but there may be a lot of “goose bumps” on beachgoers’ arms when the 59th Annual Chicago Air and Water Show heads back to the city’s lakefront

Spectators can watch Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19 and 20, as military and civilian air teams slice through the sky at high speeds, then loop, dive and twist in aerial maneuvers.

Members of the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and the U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs will plunge more than 12,000 feet toward the city’s skyline. reaching speeds of up to 180 miles per hour.

And in the waters of Lake Michigan, the U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter and the Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea Rescue Unit will perform simulated rescue maneuvers.

John Trick has been the Air and Water show’s director since 1995. Through the years, Trick has heard from many amazed spectators who marvel at the sights and sounds of the aircraft above them.

chicago-air-and-water“They will say, ‘How can an airplane do that? How can they fly upside down that long?'” Trick said. “They talk about hearing the sounds of the jets coming by with the smoke — or when the planes do figure eights or make a big heart in the sky.”

Nineteen to 20 acts, including representatives from the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, will take part in this year’s show.

It has been two years since the six-jet team of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, famous for the Delta formation, has raced through Chicago’s sky in F/A-18 Hornets.

“The Blue Angels and the other military planes always put on a great show with their high rates of speed,” Trick said.

One headliner is Chicago-based American Airlines international captain Susan Dacy, who flies in the Super Stearman Model 70 biplane. She is one of only a few women who use a biplane in airshows — and she is the only woman who flies in the Super Stearman.

“Susan flies that big old Stearman — it’s a big workhorse, massive — and it makes a lot of noise. Susan does flips, aerobatic loops and goes upside down,” Trick said.

The civilian act Sean Tucker and Team Oracle will demonstrate impressive moves as well, including Tucker’s hammerhead turnarounds.

“What Sean can do with that plane is amazing. He can almost make it hover and then fly backward,” Trick marveled.

Those who want a different way to view the Air and Water Show can visit the Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Drive, for the third annual Picnic in the Sky from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. Guests can dine and watch the show’s performers zip by the window at eye level. The cost is $100 to $150 per person. Information is available at

For those on the ground, the free Chicago Air and Water Show offers a special experience, Trick said.

“It’s so unique. You are sitting right there, along the lakefront. You can go swimming in the water. And you have this great show right along the water’s edge. It’s just a fun day at the beach.”

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