Milwaukee Air Show Thunders Across Wisconsin Skies

The Sound of Friendly Thunder

The Milwaukee Air Show brought (friendly) thunder to the sky over our Wauwatosa, WI homestead over the July 25th weekend. The engines overhead  were unmistakable and it was easy to imagine the giant air ships soaring through the sky at the lake front.

We live about 15 minutes from downtown Milwaukee, Milwaukee Air Showso we could hear the air show from home, but we could not actually see the planes from our living room windows. On Saturday July 25th, however, my husband and I were invited to watch the airshow on to a boat on Lake Michigan. Watching the show from the lake was an experience no one could forget. It was an amazing day, pretty calm on the lake, around 80 degrees. There was a little fog that came and went on the surface of the water but if you looked up, bright blue hues and white clouds littered the sky.

The Milwaukee Air and Water Show went on without a hitch for its 11th year. Considered the largest two-day event in Wisconsin, the show drew almost one million people in 2012, according to  If you are thinking of coming out for the show next year, you can find out where the best spots to watch are, the cost of admission and all the acts that will perform for you along with any and everything else you could want to know about this event.

The gates opened at 8am with the water show at 10am and the air show beginning at 12 noon. If you happened to be downtown on Thursday or Friday, you could hear and see many of the planes practicing in anticipation of the weekend show, free of charge.

One of the coolest things about the show is the white smoke you see trailing some of the planes. tells us that when some planes fly, there is a smoke of sorts that comes out of their engines called contrails. Contrails are short for condensation trails. The colder and wetter the air is what affects how long the trail is visible in the sky and how much it can spread out. There were many different acts at the show in the water and air and as follows are some of the show favorites.

Milwaukee Air Show Favorites

Milwaukee Air Show
Two F-22 Thunderbirds performing a Calypso pass.

The F-22 Raptor was the star of the show  and a very cool sight to see. With its second to none statistics as the most advanced active duty fighter plane in the world, the F-22 is truly in a class of its own. The Raptor is the world’s only operational fifth-generation fighter aircraft. The sheer size of this plane is extraordinary and the sound is literally out of this world.  In comparison to the other planes, it appeared very sci-fi and was so large, it really was like nothing the world has seen before.

But the Air Show isn’t just an Air Force operation. The US Army’s Golden Knights, the Army’s official Parachute Demonstration Team, travels around the world showcasing their skydiving expertise and winning America’s hearts according to Over the last 53 years, the United States Army Parachute Team has created hundreds of millions of positive impressions for the Army by conducting over 16,000 shows in 50 states and 48 countries.Milwaukee Air Show

The Golden Knights  are  simply the best skydivers  in the world and it is a treat to watch them whether they are doing a free fall jump, a tandem jump so that someone else can relish in the experience without having any experience or linking up to do formations. Under some conditions, with their special gear, the Army’s precision parachutists can actually catch warm updrafts coming off the sun-heated macadam surface of the runway to ride the thermals back up again.  They were one of the highlights of this year’s edition of the Air Show.

Milwaukee Air ShowAnother showstopper came all the way from France. The Breitling Jet Team is one of the largest professional team of non-military jet pilots in the world, with a mostly French team of pilots who have flown for the French military, and now fly for the French watchmaker whose products have long been associated with aviation themes. According to, their L-39 C Albatros jets can reach speeds up to 565 MPH and have flown in 26 countries across the world. There are more stops for the Breitling team following the Milwaukee show. I liked to watch these planes because there were several planes that flew for them and I could always make out the Breitling lettering on the bottom of the planes as they passed overhead.

Along with these plane and skydiver shows, there were water acts that went on in the morning hours, an application for your phone or smart device that talked a little bit about the groups that were flying and played music, a show center boat to view and many other things that made this event a must attend this past weekend.

Photo Credits:

Primary Image from Wikipedia
Calypso Pass image from Wikipedia
Breitling Aircraft courtesy of Breitling

 3,964 total views,  2 views today