A Guide To The 61st Annual Chicago Air And Water Show

Shannon Blum
July 16, 2019 - 2:26 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Keep your eyes on the sky and the water for the 61st annual Chicago Air and Water Show.

The 2019 Chicago Air and Water Show kicks off Saturday, Aug. 17 and continues Sunday, Aug. 18 along the lakefront, from Fullerton to Oak Street. North Avenue Beach is the center of the show taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

The show is one of the largest and longest-running free events of its kind and welcomes millions back every year to watch high-flying acts. This year’s headliners include the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights.

Along with the headliners, the City of Chicago will welcome the ambassadors of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, to the 61st Annual Chicago Air and Water Show. Chicago will be the first stop in the U.S. for the RAF Red Arrows’ on their 2019 tour of North America. 

“It’s an honor to welcome the Red Arrows to Chicago to be a part of the largest show of its kind and one of the city’s longest running events along our City’s lakefront,” said former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “As a Midwest summer tradition for tourists and residents, the free admission Chicago Air & Water Show contributes an approximated $78 million in total business activity to the Chicago economy and has an estimated attendance of more than a million.”

Expected to attract 1 million people to North Avenue Beach, the 61st annual Air and Water Show will feature a wide variety of military and civilian aerial demonstration teams with daredevil pilots performing their stunts in the skies above Chicago. Many returning acts are confirmed.

WBBM Newsradio will broadcast the show live both days and provide live streaming video coverage at WBBMNewsradio.com/airshow.

Think you are ready to hit the beach and watch the two-day, sky and water event? Here is a guide to 2019’s Chicago Air and Water Show.

City of Chicago

Schedule:

The Chicago Air and Water Show takes place Saturday, Aug. 17 and Sunday, Aug. 18 at North Avenue Beach. The event hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free. The National Anthem will be sung at 10 a.m.

Lineup

Headliners: 

  • U.S. Navy Blue Angels
  • U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights

Special Honored Guests:

  • The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – Red Arrows

Military Teams:

  • U.S. Air Force F–22 Raptor Demo
  • U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demo
  • USMC MV-22 Osprey Demo
  • U.S. Air Force A–10 Thunderbolt II
  • U.S. Air Force KC–135 Stratotanker
  • U.S. Coast Guard MH–65 Dolphin Helicopter

Civilian Teams:

  • American Airlines
  • Bill Stein Aerosport
  • Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea Resue
  • Chicago Police Department Helicopter
  • Sean D. Tucker & Team Oracle
  • James J. Versluis Center Point Boat
  • Susan Dacy in the Super Stearman 
  • The Firebirds Delta Team
  • Matt Chapman Air Shows

*Performers are not listed in order of appearance. The schedule is decided the morning of the show by the pilots. Performers are subject to change. For more information on the Chicago Air and Water Show performers, click here.

City of Chicago

Voice of the Show:

Herb Hunter – “Millions know him as ‘the voice’ of the Chicago Air and Water Show that dazzles hundreds of thousands every year along the lakefront,” according to a City statement. “He has become a household name among Chicago fans and the air show industry nationwide. And his reputation as a consummate professional who talks the talk and walks the walk continues to grow today. ”

Herb Hunter used to fly in the show before becoming the show announcer over 20 years ago. For many years he flew the USAF KC-135. He has been the show announcer for the last 32 years.

City of Chicago

Best Places To Watch:

The City of Chicago recommends watching either at the show center at North Avenue Beach, or anywhere along the lakefront from Oak Street and Fullerton Avenue. The City also suggests Ohio Street Beach as another option. High-rise buildings, restaurants and bars in Downtown and Lincoln Park are hosting watch parties during the show.

You can also tune into WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9FM on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. for a live broadcast of the show.

City of Chicago

I Have A Boat. Can I Watch From The Lake?

Boat restrictions will start at 7 a.m. the days of the shows. You will have to follow the lead of the Coast Guard and the Police Marine Unit.

Accessible Seating:

Accessible seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis during show hours to individuals with disabilities. Primary Accessible Seating will be provided for the Air and Water Show at the north end of the North Avenue Beach House viewing stands. Beach mats will be in place for accessible travel over sand to/from the seating area.

Where is the transportation drop off and pick up located?  For Paratransit and vehicles transporting people with disabilities, the location is the entrance to North Avenue Beach.

For more information on accessible seating, visit here.

City of Chicago

Getting There

Public Transportation:

The CTA will provide extra service, both Saturday and Sunday. Check back for updates. 

Metra:

Metra will run extra service on Saturday and Sunday to accommodate Chicago Air and Water Show riders. Check back for updates

Divvy:

For the Air and Water Show, Divvy will offer Valet Service at select stations on Saturday and Sunday to guarantee a spot for your Divvy bike. Check back for updates. 

Taxi, Limos, Uber, Lyft and other Car Service:

Pick-up and drop-off locations will be South of North Ave, West of Clark St. – on Wells St. or Armitage Av.

Parking:

The City of Chicago suggests guests to park at one of the Millennium Garages. Garage locations include Millennium Park Garage and Millennium Lakeside Garage at 5 S. Columbus Drive, Grant Park North Garage at 25 N. Michigan Ave. and Grant Park South Garage at 325 S. Michigan Ave. Visit millenniumgarages.com for rates and reservations.

*There will be parking restrictions posted in the area and motorists are advised to read signage before parking on streets. If your vehicle has been towed, call 311 for assistance to locate your vehicle.

City of Chicago

Food:

Though you are welcome to bring your own food, spectators can purchase food at the food vendors stationed along the lakefront. Food offerings include hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, nachos, ice cream, water and soft drinks.

Prohibited Items:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • BBQ Grills (Open Flames)
  • Drones (Personal and Commercial)
  • Fireworks or Explosives
  • Illegal Substances & Weapons
  • Pop-up Tents/Canopies
  • Balloons
  • Kites
  • Flag Poles
  • All Pets (except Service Animals)

Failure to comply with the above may result in entry being denied. All containers will be subject to search. Bicycles may not be ridden on festival grounds.

Permitted Items:

  • Blankets
  • Chairs
  • Coolers

Lost? Need Help? Injured? Witness criminal activity?

Look up and call 9-1-1 and give the letter/number on the pole nearest your location. “Pole Markers” attached to the light poles along the lakefront will help first-responders locate you quickly.

Will The Show Be Broadcast?

Yes! WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9 FM will offer a play-by-play of the show on radio. Plus, the station will offer a livestream of the event on its website, wbbmnewsradio.com/airshow and the WBBM Newsradio Facebook page.

For more information on the Chicago Air and Water Show, visit the City of Chicago website.