Published on September 5th, 2019 | by FII Reader


Chicago Air & Water Display 2019

The 61st Chicago Air & Water Display took place over the weekend of 17th& 18th August 2019 on the Lakefront,North Avenue Beach, Lake Michigan, Chicago. I had travelled from Dublin to New York, spending four days there and then on to Chicago via an overnight Amtrak train for six days to include the Airshow on my trip.

Chicago, the windy city is the third largest populated city and has so much to offer the visitor and is one of the cleanest cities I have visited.You can visit world-class museums, dine at one the many Michelin-star restaurants or catch a show in one of over 200 theatres. As for the Airshow the weather over the weekend was very changeable with Saturdays display being interrupted throughout the day with showers and low cloud. The early hours of Sunday morning would see an extreme storm hit Chicago, luckily the storm moved fairly rapidly to give way to clear blue skies.

The organisers had delayed the start of Sundays show from 10 am to midday to ensure that flying could take place and there was a full afternoon of flying.Highlights of the display included: The Headliners and closing the show both days was the US Navy Blue Angels who have been astounding audiences since 1946 with their commanding presence and aerial manoeuvres in their F/A–18 Hornets. I was fortunate enough to have arrived for the teams practice display on the Thursday in clear Blue Skies. As with the USAF Thunderbirds, both teams fly a fast and noisy display to demonstrate frontline fighter jets, with several over flights of the crowd.

Honoured guests the RAF Red Arrows first USA display was in Chicago.Having spent three days transiting from RAF Scampton to Canada, it is the biggest-ever visit by the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team to Canada and the United States and the first to the two countries in more than a decade. It safe to say that the Red Arrows show of Aerial Ballet of close formation flying and their dynamic second half of Synchro pair and various manoeuvres was a crowd pleaser with the enthusiastic crowd. Spontaneous applause, appreciation and cheering for the team at some manoeuvres such as the “Tornado” and the “Gypo break” was great to hear.

The 11-week deployment is an indication of the UK’s continuing commitment to enduring relationships, mutual prosperity and extensive security cooperation. Team Oracle deserves a mention, as it has to be one of the best pair’s routineI have seen. Legend of the skies Sean D Tucker and esteemed aviatrix Jessy Panzer put their Challenger III & Extra 300L through a unique and unusual display including the signature centrifuge, inside-outside loop and Immelman. For me this routine was one of the highlights that I have seen on the air display circuit. Sean D tuckers Challenger III is to be donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum at the end of the 2019 season and I feel honoured to have witnessed an accomplished display pilot and aircraft.  USAF F22 Raptor never fails to put on an impressive display.

The sheer power and energy in this aircraft and Maj. Paul “Loco” Lopez display was outstanding, demonstrating the aircrafts agility and characteristics. The USAF also displayed theF-16CM Fighting Falcon, affectionately known as the “Viper,” The Team Viper Demo display also put on an impressive display. With its lightweight frame and powerful General Electric engine generating 31,000 pounds of thrust, the F-16 can fly at speeds in excess of Mach 2.

Many other aircraft took part to make for a well-balanced and diverse show, including the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, USMC MV-22 Osprey Demox2, USAF A–10 Thunderbolt IIx4, USAF KC–135 Stratotanker, Chicago Police Department Helicopter, Susan Dacy in the Super Stearman and The Firebirds Delta Team.With the weather trying to disrupt preceding’s both days, the organisers must be thanked for still putting on a great weekend of flying entertainment. I would highly recommend Chicago and the show for any travellers to the US. For further information on the show and future dates please see https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_air_and_watershow.html

Words and photos by Jason Phelan.

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