Taking Flight With the Chicago Air and Water Show

The Chicago Air and Water Show is the largest free show of its kind in the United States. The show can be seen all the way from Oak Street to Fullerton, with North Avenue Beach as the focal point. We’ve put together all you’ll need to know so you don’t have to wing it.

About the Show



Not only is that the sound of that last pun going over some people’s heads, it’s also the noise you’ll be hearing quite a bit of as fighter planes zip by you along the lakefront. Here are some things to know up front:

  • You CAN bring a blanket, chairs, and cooler to the beach.
  • You CANNOT have beer in that cooler.
  • You CANNOT bring pop-up tents, canopies, balloons, kites, fireworks, flagpoles, fireworks, carrier pigeons, food trucks, or anything else that might cause harm or obstruct the vision of others.
  • The show will be broadcast on WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9FM from 10am-3pm both days. WBBM will also provide a live video stream on their official site.
  • Boat restrictions begin at 7am on show days, so don’t plan on taking a spin around the area before or during the performance.


The big headliner each year is always the Blue Angels, so we’ll start with them:


The U.S. Navy Blue Angels have been astounding audiences since 1946. This elite group of Navy pilots has set the standard for precision flying with their diamond formation, choreographed high altitude maneuvers, and astounding solo pilot aerobatics.

The U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights have thrilled spectators in all 50 states and 48 countries since their commencement over 50 years ago. While some would be happy enough with a single (or non-existent) jump out of an aircraft 12,500 feet above the earth’s surface, these folks live for it.


The U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs are also the type to jump out of planes, but with a twist. Accelerating to speeds of up to 180 mph, the Leap Frogs will then open their pilot chute and fly together to form various canopy formations.



The program is the same both days, but there’s no set schedule for performers (You can count on the Blue Angels performing last each time though). The pilots decide on a schedule the day of the event, so there’s really no way to know what will happen until then.

There are 21 teams performing this time around. They are as follows:

  • U.S. Navy Blue Angels
  • U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights
  • U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs
  • F-35 Heritage Flight
  • F-16
  • A-10
  • F-22
  • AV-8B Harrier
  • U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter
  • C-130
  • AeroShell Aerobatic Team
  • Aerostars
  • American Airlines – 787
  • Sean D. Ticker & Team Oracle
  • Bill Stein Airshows
  • The Firebirds Team Delta
  • Matt Chapman Airshows
  • Susan Dacy in the Super Stearman Model 70
  • Warbird Heritage Museum P-51 Mustang
  • Warbird Heritage Museum A-4 Skyhawk Jet Tac Demo
  • Chicago Fire Department Helicopter Air/Sea Rescue 

Voice of the Show

If you’ve been to the Air & Water Show, you’ve heard Herb Hunter. The esteemed announcer has been the official voice of the show for 30 years now, and for good reason. Herb possesses the quintessential ability to not only provide information, but also entertainment. He’s basically a household name at this point, so much so that we’ve dedicated a portion of this article entirely to him. Trust us, he’s good.


That just about covers it. If we’ve left anything up in the air (aside from the planes) let us know on Twitter @UMatterChicago or on Facebook at Facebook.com/urbanmatterchicago.

The Chicago Air and Water Show takes place on Saturday, August 19 & Sunday, August 20 above North Ave Beach from 10am-3pm.


Photo Credit: Social Power Hour via socialpowerhour.com/