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Air And Water Show Thunders Through Chicago’s Skies In Full Force Despite Weekend Weather

PHOTOS: See the annual air show from the lake, tarmac and the skies over Chicago.

The US Army Golden Knights prepare to leap over the city during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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NORTH AVENUE BEACH — The skies over Chicago were full of jets, parachuters and rainstorms as the Air and Water Show returned for the first time in full swing since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many aspects of the Saturday and Sunday show were back to normal, from airshow legend Herb Hunter narrating with his endless knowledge to the Navy Blue Angels thundering through the sky. Rain slowed down some parts, but that didn’t stop spectators from packing Chicago beaches or taking to the lake on boats to watch the military and civilian shows of aeronautical force.

“It’s just great to be back and be a part of Chicago. It’s the heart and soul of the country. I’m glad to be here,” Hunter said.

The highlight for Hunter is the crowds of folks hoping to catch a glimpse of the planes as they buzz past with a backdrop like none other: Chicago’s skyline and Lake Michigan.

“Airplanes bring out the kid in all of us,” he said.

The weekend was dedicated to Hunter’s close friend and boss, Rudy Malnati Jr., a Chicago pizza legend and decades-long director of the air show. Malnati died in December.

“His spirit is still here, but it’s going to be a little sad without him,” Hunter said.

When the clouds broke up briefly Saturday morning, the Army Golden Knights plunged from 5,000 feet to kick off the show.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A Golden Knight leaps over the city next to a Triple Time Team plane during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.

A key part of the performances was a heritage flight, where a modern F-35A Lightning jet flew alongside an F4U Corsair, which fought in the Pacific theater of World War II and has rarely been showcased in the annual show.

“They’re both the greatest planes of their time. The F-35, today, is just the pinnacle,” Louis Herschel, who flew the ’40s dogfighter, said Thursday on the tarmac at Gary Jet Center.

Herschel’s father was a World War II veteran, and his mission while in the cockpit is to keep alive the legacy of his father and others who fought.

“The history of this airplane and the history of World War II is something we can’t forget,” Herschel said. “I fly this to honor the guys that did it for real and right up through the guys that are doing it today. … They’re my heroes.”

On the civilian side, aerobatic pilot Bill Stein likes everything but landing. He and the Triple Time Team practice their maneuvers “thousands and thousands of times” to get them just right.

Stein, a lifelong Midwesterner, said he is here to entertain — while enjoying the views of Chicago.

“It’s just incredible to look down and go, ‘Oh my god,’ there really might be a million people down there,” Stein said.

Photos from the weekend:

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A Navy Blue Angel flies past the John Hancock Center during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 21, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
An F-35 Lightning II races through the sky during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 21, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Rainstorm clouds temporarily halt the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 21, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A US Army Golden Knight leaps over the city during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A Triple Time Team plane flies alongside while the US Army Golden Knights during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Herb Hunter, the voice of the air show, poses for a portrait during the media day of the Chicago Air and Water Show at Gary Jet Center on Aug. 18, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Golden Knights plane sits on the tarmac during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A V-22 Osprey flies over Lake Michigan during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 21, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The US Army Golden Knights stand at attention before boarding their plane during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
An F-22 Raptor sits covered with raindrops during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A Golden Knight leaps over the city next to a Red Bull Aerobatic plane during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Louis Horschel works on his Vought F4U Corsair during the media day of the Chicago Air and Water Show at Gary Jet Center on Aug. 18, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Navy Blue Angels jets taxi during the media day of the Chicago Air and Water Show at Gary Jet Center on Aug. 18, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Blue Angels C-130 “Fat Albert” sits on the tarmac during the media day of the Chicago Air and Water Show at Gary Jet Center on Aug. 18, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A Navy Blue Angel jet screeches over Navy Pier during the media day of the Chicago Air and Water Show at Gary Jet Center on Aug. 18, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The US Army Golden Knights suit up before leaping over Chicago during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Bill Stein and the Triple Time Team fly past the shining sun during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 21, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Passengers watch the Chicago Air and Water Show from aboard the Tall Ship Windy on Aug. 21, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The US Army Golden Knights prepare to leap over the city during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
U.S. Army Golden Knights barrel through the skies during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 21, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A Vought F4U Corsair is wheeled into the hangar after the media day of the Chicago Air and Water Show at Gary Jet Center on Aug. 18, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
An F-22 Raptor and a P-51 Mustang fly past Chicago’s skyline during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 21, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A KC-135 Stratotanker prepares to land during the media day of the Chicago Air and Water Show at Gary Jet Center on Aug. 18, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Navy Blue Angels fly during the Chicago Air and Water Show, as seen from Lake Michigan on Aug. 21, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
People on boats watch as two A-10 Thunderbolt II fly over Lincoln Park during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 21, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A group of young kids check out the US Army Golden Knights plane during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Chicago skyline as seen from above during the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Navy Blue Angels jets fly by during the media day of the Chicago Air and Water Show at Gary Jet Center on Aug. 18, 2022.

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