How do you know when summer is pretty much over? The moment you hear supersonic jets flying over the city.
Aside from the big music fests like Lollapalooza and the lovely concerts at Millenium Park, you don’t really see Chicago go outside together quite like at the Air and Water Show. The beaches are packed, the lake is frosted with boats, all to witness those amazing aerial acrobatics that leave us all wishing we could fly.
This year I boycotted the beach. Having friends with a rooftop along with a pool in Old Town has its benefits. Don’t get me wrong, the crowd is half the experience, but being able to work on the tan, and not having 10 people bump into me every minute was nice.
The event started off with some classic planes showing off. The parachute team soon followed with their routine. It was all pretty much what you’d expect: some nice twirls, landings, and sky-writing with that fancy colored smoke.
Let’s talk about landings for a sec. One parachutist in particular had the wind gods get the best of him. I’m not saying landing on beach sand is a walk in the park, but landing on water just looks scary. Naturally, the squad of police boats were hot on his tail, rescuing him in no time.
Cue the headliners: the Thunderbirds. Being up on a high-rise, the rumble and sound of a fly-by is quite impressive. Overall, the upside down flying and the choreography was wonderful, while simultaneously making my stomach turn. Sadly though, it all felt a bit bland and safe.
Too many fly-bys and not enough sexy tricks.
At this point, I had my little pocket camera out and tried to get a few good shots in. Naturally, when you’re standing around photogs at an event like this, it turns into a competition quick, like so.
Dear middle-aged man with the paparazzi zoom lens and overly tight swim trunks: Yes, your pictures are going to look better than mine. They should, anyways.
My childhood dream was to be a stunt pilot, but nowadays, I’m comfortable just watching.
About the author: Joseph Delhommer is a creative in advertising that loves doing video and photography work on the side. He occasionally tweets as @alwaysplotting and also runs the Chicago-based collaborative, The Hello Project