Blue Angels practice in Chicago before big show this weekend

If you didn’t see them, you most certainly heard them.

The Blue Angels were ripping through the skies over Chicago on Friday, getting ready for what's going to be an abbreviated Air and Water Show this weekend.

"This is the epitome of the air show. Just to have the Blue Angels, just to see them," said a woman standing on North Avenue Beach as the Blue Angels jets screamed overhead.

It was a spectacular day for the air show before the air show. But like this year's show itself, the crowds were a little smaller at North Avenue Beach.

However, those that made it were treated to three hours of practice by the US Navy Blue Angels team; two hours this morning with three planes and then another hour in the afternoon with all six.


Usually the Blue Angels are the grand finale of the Air and Water Show. This year, they are the entire show. It's been scaled down — because of COVID — to one-hour performances by the Blue Angels starting at noon on Saturday and Sunday.

The water part of the show is on hold until next year.

"It’s back and I am so happy," said Herb Hunter, longtime announcer for the Air and Water show. "Somebody said ‘aren’t you sad it’s such a small show?’ I said I’m thankful, at least there’s something and they got the Blue Angels."

And you’ll be seeing some new and even more powerful planes as part of the team.

"For us we’re debuting on our 75th anniversary of the team a brand new F-18 Super Hornet combat tested and proven," said Blue Angels Commander Brian Kesselring. "And we’re looking forward to putting on a fantastic show for the Chicago area."

Because it’s a smaller show, the city is expecting smaller crowds — nowhere near the million or so that usually attend. But because the show was canceled entirely last year due to the pandemic, a lot of people were at North Avenue Beach on Friday just to see the practice.

"Hey we always come out early," said one woman. "It’s a great Chicago tradition. And honestly having the Blue Angels here, it may not be a full show but it will be a great show."

As usual, North Avenue serves as Ground Zero for the show. The city says you’ll also have good views all the way from Oak Street beach to Fullerton.