Going to the Chicago Air and Water Show?

Photo Credit: Patrick L. Pyszka/City of Chicago Air is invisible. Water is tasteless. In a world of iPhones, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and ABC’s Bachelor Pad – how does this seemingly dull combination put on a show worth seeing? Easy. Jets!

The Chicago Air and Water Show is one of the oldest and most popular shows of its kind. On August 18th and 19th, millions of spectators will flock to Chicago’s shoreline to witness tumbling aerobatic teams, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, and Red Bull’s famed wingsuit flyers.

I’ve seen Top Gun, like, thirteen times. When it comes to all-things-aircraft, I’m more or less an expert. So, let me be the wind beneath your wings for the best places to watch the 2012 Chicago Air and Water Show.

Best places to watch planes (and other stuff too!):

Naturally, there’s no better place to watch the Air and Water Show than along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. North Avenue Beach is closest to the action and the perfect spot for some sun-soaked volleyball. [Ed. note: watch your foot faults!] Downside? It may be too good a location. Millions of people flock to the show every year and most set up their fold-up lawn chairs on the sands just north of the Loop.

Belmont Harbor is a good off-the-beaten-path alternative to North Avenue Beach. It’s close to the action and considerably less crowded than some of the more traditional vantage points. Diversey Harbor is another less popular, but equally breathtaking location to watch parachute teams fall in unison from 12,500 feet in the air.

The John Hancock Observatory offers a birds-eye-view of the city. But during the Air and Water Show, it’s more like a front row seat. From the air conditioned luxury of the Hancock’s 94th floor, see a fighter jet from 1000 feet above the Earth’s surface (and live to tell the tale).

Perhaps the best thing about the Air and Water Show is that it’s not on a stage or in a theater. It’s a display in the sky that you can see (and hear) from pretty much anywhere near Downtown Chicago. Dust off your polarized Aviators, find the Goose to your Maverick, and enjoy a show that will take your breath away. Soundtrack, please!

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