The 53rd annual Chicago Air and Water Show takes to the skies this weekend, with aerial displays from civilian planes, military aircraft and parachuting performances miles above the city skyline.
Performing along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Fullerton to Oak Street, the 2011 show will be headlined by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, as well as the U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs and the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, who will exceed speeds of 120 mph on their leaps from a 12,500-foot altitude.
Watch a preview of the Golden Knights' routines from the Andrews AFB Air Show:
The show kicks off with the national anthem at 10 a.m. on North Avenue Beach and runs until 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Huge crowds are expected with an anticipated attendance of over 2 million, so spectators will likely be scattered across the shoreline, with many sneaking a peek at practice exercises Friday as well.
This year's Hometown Hero chosen to fly aboard a U.S.A.F. Thunderbird F-16 is Chicago Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Durbin, who saved an elderly woman from a 28th floor high rise fire while off duty in 2009.
The show will once again be presided over by Herb Hunter, a pilot and veteran announcer of airshows across the Midwest.
Boat owners, beware--restrictions begin at 7 a.m. this weekend, and the Coast Guard and Police Marine Unit will be on hand to advise and enforce boating requirements.
Play-by-play coverage of the show will air on WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9FM on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., will livestream video on their website. A highlight show, "Chicago's Top Guns", will air on ABC 7 Chicago on Sunday at 10:35 p.m. to recap the weekend's events.
Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer, who has been a pilot for more than 30 years and has gone to more than 20 Chicago Air & Water Shows, gave the Daily Herald some tips on how to maximize the experience.