Guide To: Air & Water Show

August 19, 2011 6:00 AM

(credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Chicago Air and Water Show
North Ave. Beach
Free Admission

Summer might be winding down, but there’s still one last hurrah for the family before school reclaims the kids for the year – the annual Air and Water Show. Visible from almost anywhere along the lake, we’ve got a few plans of attack for your journey with the kids into one of the summer’s most popular public events.

bestof1 Guide To: Air & Water Show

(credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

What To Bring

Before you see the ace pilots of the show, make sure you’ve got a few aces up your own sleeve. Chairs, blankets are permitted, and a couple of each should make for a nice area to call your own and stretch out a bit. Tents and shade structures, however, are out, as are beach and picnic umbrellas. Make sure everyone’s got a hat, shades, and plenty of sunscreen to beat the heat. In addition, a cooler full of water and other drinks will help keep the whole gang hydrated, so make sure to tote one of those along and drink throughout the day. Pack a couple sandwiches or other munchies into the cooler as well – if you want to get a good spot, you’ll need to get there early, and a long day calls for plenty of snacks. In addition to umbrellas/tents, the festival grounds also prohibit alcoholic beverages, BBQs/grills, flagpoles, and all non-service-animal pets.

821281091 Guide To: Air & Water Show

Where To Set Up

North Ave. Beach is the focal point of the show, but you can still find a decent view of the action anywhere from Oak Street all the way up to Fullerton. The waterfront has the benefit of the closest view and the water itself, but you can always find some space along the rock steps facing the water, or in the grassy areas to the North. If you aren’t sitting quite close enough to Air and Water show longtime announcer Herb Hunter and want to make sure you catch all the details, just bring a portable radio with you – WBBM will be broadcasting the show all day.

bestof2 Guide To: Air & Water Show

(credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

What You’ll See

Once you’ve gotten situated and have all the supplies you’ll need for the day, it’s time to enjoy the show. For the civilians, noted stunt pilots Sean D. Tucker, Matt Chapman, and Bill Stein’s Zivko Edge will be bringing their expertise and unique planes out to play. Groups like the Firebirds, the Aeroshell Acrobatic Team, and the six-plane Lima Lima Flight crew will be doing coordinated stunts and formations of varying difficulty. An array of military aircraft will also be on display – aside from the impressive U.S.N. F-18 Super Hornet and USAF B-1B Lancer Bomber, an array of Air Force planes both past and present will be flying together in a history lesson the kids should have no problem paying attention to.

For the headliners, three branches of the military get to show off some of their finest. The U.S. Navy Leapfrogs consist of 14 jumpers parachuting down from an altitude of 12,500 feet. The U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team will also be performing feats of coordination and bravery while not letting the fact that they are falling very, very fast towards the ground bother them in the least. And last but certainly not least, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will be performing all the death-defying close passes, impossibly tight formations and other spectacles that make everyone in the audience feel like a kid again.

Top Grub

2114 N. Halstead St.
Chicago, Il 60614

Green City Market

If you’ve worked your way through all the PB&Js for the day, don’t succumb to the concession stand just yet – there’s plenty of other options for food at the show. Nookies is just a couple blocks off the lake at 1746 N. Wells, and offers a good variety of omelets, sandwiches, and has an outdoor patio. Or if you’re looking for a healthier option, the Green City Market (located roughly at 1790 N. Clark) offers sustainably grown produce and snacks. In addition, early birds on Saturday can catch a cooking demo from Rick Gresh of David Burke’s Primehouse from 10:30-11:00am. If you really want to make a splash, book the family on one of the several cruise ships out of Navy Pier – the Mystic Blue, Odyssey, and Spirit Cruises will be in the water during the show, and both Spirit and the Mystic Blue have buffet packages starting around $45.

Dan Morgridge is a writer in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village.

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