Story and Photos by Jeff Serpa
The sound of freedom graced the windy city sky line on August 20th and 21st, with the first full airshow in Chicago since the pandemic. The Chicago Water and Airshow took shape on Friday August 19th, with a full airshow practice. Friday’s weather was perfect, sunny blue skies with some white fluffy clouds in the back ground. Saturday and Sunday’s action was hampered slightly by rain and cloud cover, but the show went on. Airshow aircraft were staged at Gary Indiana Airport where the weather also created some delays, schedule changes and performer cancelations. The rain did not stop spectators from packing North Avenue Beach or taking to the lake in their boats for the airshow. On Friday, Chicago officials estimated nearly 2,000,000 people were expected to attend the Air and Water show over the weekend.
The airshow kicked of at 10:00 each day with a great list of aerial performers;
-United States Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team
-United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team
-United States Navy F-35C Demo Team
-United States Air Force F-22 Raptor Demo Team
-United States Air Force Heritage Flight
-United States Coast Guard Air/Sea Rescue Demo
-Maryland Air National Guard A-10C Thunderbolt Team
-Illinois Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker
-West Coast C-17 Demo Team
-United States Marine MV-22 Osprey
-Chicago Police Department Helicopter
-Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea Rescue
The first Chicago Airshow was held in 1959, and was called the Lakeshore Air and Water Show. The only aerial performer was the United States Coast Guard Air/Sea Rescue Demonstration. The following year, the United States Thunderbirds and United States Army Golden Knights joined the airshow lineup and the event became a Chicago tradition. The event was renamed the Chicago Water and Air Show. Veteran Airshow announcer Herb Hunter has been “the voice” of the Chicago Water and Air show for more then 20 years. As one of the smoothest announcers in the business, Herb’s first hand knowledge as a pilot and his great microphone skills keep airshow fans informed and entertained while aircraft buzz the sky in front of them.
This year’s Chicago Air and Water Show was dedicated to the memory of Rudy Malnati Jr. Rudy served as the Air Boss for the Air and Water Show for over 30 Years. In addition to the Chicago Air and Water Show, Rudy also directed numerous other Airshows in the Midwest. To honor Rudy, the Golden Knights Parachute Team proudly flew a “Rudy” flag on their decent to the beach, while the US Navy Legacy Flight incorporated a missing man formation into their demonstration in remembrance of Rudy. For those aviation fans who desired a different view of these airshow aircraft, the Gary Indiana Airport was the place. For $20 dollars, a viewing area was provided for aviation enthusiast to watch the air show performers take off and return to the airport.
This gave airshow fans a different and closer look at these aircraft participating in the Air and Water Show. Given the successful return of the Chicago Water and Air Show, you can bet next year’s show will be bigger and better.