The Chicago Air and Water Show
You would think that after several years of living in Chicago, I’d be used to Air and Water Show weekend when it comes around… but, nope. I still always end up getting caught completely off guard at the end of the week when the pilots start their practice rounds for the weekend shows.
This year, I was running south along the Lakefront Trail when a single F/A-18 suddenly rocketed past me from behind and scared the absolute shit out of me. I literally put my arms over my head and ducked. I felt like an idiot… and as if that wasn’t enough, I did it two more times during my run before I just gave up (my pace was shot at that point) and wrapped up early.
I think I’ve spent a little too much time reading tweets about the impending World War III/ Civil War II/ North Korea War.
Anyway, this past weekend was Air Show weekend! I’ve always loved watching the practice rounds leading up to the Saturday and Sunday shows (once I get over the initial terror of hearing that F-22 Raptor engine), but I’ve always been out of town/ working/ busy during the actual shows and have never gotten to go.
That finally changed this year! The event itself is free (kinda hard to charge admission when the show is visible from literally everywhere with a view of the sky), but Mando and I scored some tickets (thanks Tribune!) to the fenced-in area along North Avenue Beach where the announcers sit and the parachutists land.
Mando let me borrow some of his camera gear, which was pretty cool of him. I used the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens to take a few shots of the show, and while I wish I’d had a bigger lens, we still had a pretty good view and I ended up getting a couple good frames.
You could say it was just plane awesome!
Having access to the North Avenue Beach seated area was the highlight of the show. We were right next to the media pit and the announcers, which was really awesome. The Blue Angels are my favorite act to watch, and it was nice that we got a fly-by-fly narration so we always knew which way to look and what maneuvers to expect from the planes.
Mando’s parents are both Air Force veterans, and my dad had enlisted in the Air Force at 18 before he ended up in a debilitating road accident that left him physically incapable of service.
Both of us grew up learning about planes and going to air shows with our respective families, so it was cool to experience one together. I was definitely all about witnessing the expert finesse of the pilots, and Mando’s ability to rattle off aircraft statistics and specs is pretty impressive.
It was also cool that we got to sit about three rows back from where the Army Golden Knights and the Navy Leap Frogs came down with their parachutes, so we got to watch each and every single parachutist land directly on target. It was incredibly impressive and also slightly terrifying.
Anyway, here are a few more photos. I’m still recovering from a particularly nasty sunburn, but it was definitely worth it.