Show Director Says Air & Water Show Cannot Move To South Side

Bernie Tafoya
August 23, 2019 - 10:20 am
planes in sky at Air Show

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Don’t look for the Chicago Air and Water Show to be moving to the South Side as suggested this week by a former Chicago alderman. The director of the show said it's an idea that won't fly.

Former Alderman Bob Fioretti had suggested show center for the Air and Water Show be moved to a South Side beach every other year in the interest of equity. 

But, Rudy Malnati, the director of the show for the past 28 years said the last Mayor Daley had him look at that idea years ago and it was determined the idea would not work.

"We were going to, actually, look at moving the whole air show down to 31st Street, get it out of the traffic area at North Avenue Beach, but unfortunately we couldn’t do it because of how busy Midway ended up getting," Malnati said.

Malnati said it's an air safety issue.  

"We have to set up a ring, a five mile ring from center point all the way around in a circular configuration, all the way around the center point of where the air show is and that, unfortunately, takes into arrivals at Midway," he said.

If it would have worked, Malnati said he likes the idea.

"31st Street was a great location as I looked at everything and tried to put it together, because obviously, we would have been able to get the buses there and we had parking at McCormick Place, so that would have been an ideal situation," he said.

However, he points out it would take great studying to figure out how to get the massive Air and Water Show crowds safely into and out of the viewing areas.

Malnati has worked on the Air and Water Show since 1963 and has been its director since 1991.  He points out that decades ago, the Air Show was held one day near the Museum of Science and Industry at 57th Street, and the other day centered at Chicago Avenue.

All air traffic is run, during the air show, from Malnati's platform at North Avenue Beach now.  He said he is in constant contact with controllers at O'Hare and Midway to make sure everything runs smoothly and safely.  

Malnati is already planning next year's Chicago Air and Water Show and said the Air Force Thunderbirds will be taking part.