CHICAGO — The Chicago Air and Water Show, one of the city's most well-attended summer events, returns to the skies above Lake Michigan this Saturday and Sunday.
The two-day event, which is being held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. each day, is featuring some new talent this year in addition to the usual military and civilian aircraft demonstrations and dive team performances.
While crowd favorites like the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds will not be performing thanks to federal budget cuts, that doesn't mean the show will lack aerobatic entertainment.
Here are five reasons to stop by the Chicago Air and Water Show this weekend:
1. Performances from newcomers like the All-Veteran Parachute Team, the British Sea Harrier Jet, and the GEICO Skytypers who will be "sky-typing messages in the sky throughout the show. It's not like skywriting — it looks like text messaging," said Department of Cultural Affairs spokeswoman Mary May.
2. "Malibu" Chuck Aaron, the only civilian pilot in America licensed to perform helicopter aerobatics, will take his Red Bull chopper in 360-degree back rolls, backflips and a maneuver call the "Chuckcilvak."
3. The Aeroshell Aerobatic Team will fly World War II-era fighters like the P-51 Mustang and P-40 Warhawk in a series of close formations.
5. See the Chicago Fire Department Helicopter Air Sea Rescue team.
Although officials wait to the morning of each show to decide the exact schedule, more information can be found on the city's website.
Event organizers say the best spot to watch the show is North Avenue Beach from Fullerton Avenue to Oak Street in Lincoln Park. But beware, more than a million other people will be staking out spots as well. Expect traffic jams and parking shortages across the Near North Side and Lincoln Park.
Spectators can also catch the action at Belmont Harbor, Ohio Street Beach, Diversey Harbor, Navy Pier, the John Hancock Observatory, rooftop bars close to the lake or water tour boats.
The Chicago Air and Water Show, which began as part of a "Family Day Celebration" in 1959, is now the largest and oldest air and water show in the country.