A Guide To The 60th Annual Chicago Air And Water Show

Shannon Blum
July 13, 2018 - 9:54 am

City of Chicago

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Keep your eyes on the sky and the water for the 60th annual Chicago Air and Water Show.

The 2018 Chicago Air and Water Show, presented by Shell Oil Products and the City of Chicago, kicks off Saturday, Aug. 18 and continues Sunday, Aug. 19 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. Air Force Thunderbirds, the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, and the U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs.

Expected to attract 1 million people to North Avenue Beach, the 60th 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 event? Here is a guide to 2018’s Chicago Air and Water Show.

City of Chicago


The Chicago Air and Water Show takes place Saturday, Aug. 18 and Sunday, Aug. 19 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.



  • U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
  • U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights
  • U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs

-Military Teams:

  • U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
  • U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights
  • U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs
  • C-130 Hercules
  • KC-135 Stratotanker
  • P-51 Mustang
  • T-38 Talon
  • U.S. Nacy F-18
  • U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter
  • U.S. Coast Guard Cutter
  • F-35 Heritage Flight

-Civilian Teams:

  • AeroShell Aerobatic Team
  • Aerostars
  • Sean D. Tucker & Team Oracle
  • Bill Stein Aerosport
  • American Airlines 787-8
  • The Firebirds Delta Team
  • Matt Chapman Airshows
  • Ron Holland
  • Susan Dacy in the Super Stearman Model 70
  • Warbird Heritage Museum Foundation A-4 Skyhawk Jet Tac Demo and P51 Mustang
  • Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea Rescue
  • Chicago Police Department Helicopter

*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. You can count on the headliners performing last. 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 31 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 will run extra service on Saturday and Sunday to accommodate Chicago Air and Water Show riders. Check back for updates


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.


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. Parking packages are available for $35 all-day parking plus a free shuttle service is offered from Millennium Park Garage to North Avenue Beach. 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.

Hotel Accomodations: 

The Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is a sponsor of the Chicago Air & Water Show and offers a package including:

  • Complimentary shuttle transportation to and from North Ave Beach
  • Complimentary Breakfast for 2 in Third Star Restaurant
  • Complimentary Self-Parking at the hotel
  • Complimentary Premium WiFi access in your guest room

City of Chicago


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)
  • Fireworks or Explosives
  • Illegal Substances & Weapons
  • Pop-up Tents/Canopies
  • Balloons
  • Kites
  • Flag Poles
  • All Pets (except Service Animals)

Permitted Items:

  • Blankets
  • Chairs
  • Coolers

*All containers will be subject to search.

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.