Home / News / Chicago Air and Water Show 2023: Squad, schedule and Thunderbirds

Chicago Air and Water Show 2023: Squad, schedule and Thunderbirds


Just a few generations ago, flying was a miracle for most Chicagoans. They caught “aviation inflammation” and loved to watch fantastic flying machines glide along the lake shore.

This love affair continued until 1959, when water skiing, games, and a diving competition lined up the city’s first air and water show, a celebration for the kids in the Chicago Park District’s day camp program. Produced for just $88.

Almost 65 years later, organizers expect nearly 2 million people on lakeshore beaches to watch acrobatics in the sky and simulated rescue operations in the water.

We’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know about this year’s Chicago Air and Water Show: how to get to (or avoid) the lakeshore, weather conditions, what to expect, and more.

NO! The event is free.

North Street Beach It is the center of the show, but good sight lines can be found on Ohio Street Beach and along the lakeshore from Fullerton Avenue south to Oak Street Beach. Nearby parks and playgrounds are generally less crowded.

10:30-15:00, Saturday and Sunday. Rehearsal is on Friday.

Beaches open at 6am, but North Avenue Beach has no public seating or parking.

The program is subject to change and is determined on show days. The lineup includes:

  • US Air Force Thunderbirds: The air demonstration team was founded 70 years ago – just six years after the Air Force became its own service arm – and has been serving here since 1960. More than 120 enlisted members are preparing and serving eight red, white, and blue F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. Six of them perform line-up flight and solo routines during a typical show.
  • US Army Parachute Team Golden Knights: Appearing here since the 1960s when they landed in Lake Michigan, this team of soldiers jumped with former Cubs hunter and current manager David Ross, actor Vince Vaughn, and comedian Bill Murray.
  • Other Air Force shows: Viper Demonstration Crew in F-16; heritage flight with the P-51 Mustang; C-17 Globemaster III; A-10 Thunderbolt II with the Air National Guard; KC-135E Stratotanker with Air National Guard
  • US Navy: F/A-18F Super Hornet “Rhino” Demonstrator; Legacy flight with A-4B Skyhawk and FG-1D Corsair
  • US Coast Guard: MH-65D Dolphin Search and Rescue
  • Civilians: Chicago Fire Department air and sea rescue unit; Chicago Police Department helicopter; Susan Dacy; Rob Holland; Bil Stein; Kevin Coleman; Edward Hamill and the Triple Time Team.

  • pedestrians: Bridges, tunnels, or underpasses at Fullerton Avenue, Division Street, Scott Street, Chicago Avenue, North Avenue Beach, and Oak Street Beach provide easy access to the lakeshore and North Avenue Beach.
  • Public transport: Extra service and capacity will be provided during the weekend. To use The Regional Transport Authority’s Trip Planner tool Passengers’ tickets in advance or in advance to map your route. belly application to avoid long lines.
  • Chicago Transit Authority and getting there with the ‘L’: CTA will provide extra service on some lines, but 72 North Avenue The bus will be rerouted. get Red line to Chicago/State or Clark/Division stations within walking distance of the venue. Or take the Blue, Green, Orange, Brown or Pink lines to the city center and walk east. The closest CTA station to the North Avenue Beach entrance is Brown Line’s Sedgwick station.
  • Metra: Extra service will be provided Four of the 11 lines of Metra with extended passenger capacity at the weekend. Customers getting off at Metra’s Union Station or Millennium Park Station can take CTA’s 151 bus to Oak Street and North Avenue beaches. Alcohol is prohibited and may not be available for bikes all day on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Bicycle: Are you bringing your own bike? Bicycles are allowed on the beach. to rent? Divvy’s closest station to North Avenue Beach is at DuSable Lake Shore Drive and North Boulevard. Valet service is provided between 08:00 and 16:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Additional valet service will be available each day of the show at Navy Pier (Grand Avenue and Streeter Drive) and Theater on the Lake (Fullerton Avenue and DuSable Lake Shore Drive). plan to ride divvybikes.com.
  • Car park: There is no parking in the show center. Millennium Garages’ four underground locations, discounted online parking packages Advance purchase and free shuttle to and from Millennium Park Garage to North Avenue Beach. Pickup and drop-off is at the North Avenue north entrance of DuSable Lake Shore Drive. spot hero it also offers options for parking nearby.

All bags will be searched at the entrance.

What you can bring to the show:

  • Binoculars
  • bottled water
  • Chairs
  • Coolers
  • headphones
  • blankets
  • Sunglasses
  • suntan cream

leave at home:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Balloons and kites
  • drones
  • Firework
  • flag poles
  • grids
  • illegal substances
  • Pets (except guide animals)
  • Tents and canopies
  • Weaponry

It is possible.

In severe weather: Temporary shelter from rain, gusts, lightning or hail is available at various nearby underpasses (Diversey Harbor, Fullerton Street, and LaSalle Drive) and at footpath locations (Division Street, Scott Street, Oak Street, and Chicago Street).

Spectators can pay $20 per vehicle to enter the parking lot. Gary/Chicago International Airportwhere they can watch planes take off and land.

Herb Hunter is the show announcer based in North Avenue Beach. A former military pilot and captain of United Airlines.

Play-by-play coverage will be open WBBM-AM 780 and 105.9 FM.

For those with low vision or blindness, there will be an accessible audio description on both days of the show. via zoom.

Vertical green signs with white letters and numbers pole signs Attaches to all light poles on the lake shore.

Loss? Wounded? Witnessing criminal activity? Look up, call 911 and give the letter/number on the pole closest to your location to help first responders find you. Or use the post marker to let your friends and family know where you are.

Sources: Tribune reporting; Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events


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