Jack Fennimore
Photo Gallery

Triumph of the Thunderbirds

The Milwaukee Air and Water Show 2015 was all about fast planes.

By - Jul 28th, 2015 01:54 pm
The Thunderbirds. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

The Thunderbirds. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

It was a clear, sunny Saturday afternoon along Bradford Beach and Veterans Park. The weather could not have been better for the 7th annual Milwaukee Air and Water Show this past weekend. Water and air vehicles from past and present were on full display as they raced across the water and zoomed across the sky.

While the water show featured some fun water skiing and fast boats, the air show is where the event really took off. Airplanes zoomed, climbed, dove, spiraled, loop-de-looped and crisscrossed, as they flashed across the sky with increasingly dizzying choreography. Sometimes the planes appeared to change color depending on how the sun hit them. Some demonstrations even involved two planes making a heart in the middle of the sky with their vapor trails. The Breitling Jet Team even concluded their performance with small fireworks. Other groups included the U.S. Army Golden Knights, Aerostars Formation Aerobatic Team, Team Aerodynamix, Rob Holland, and Herb Hunter.

My only complaint: it got a bit stale in the middle of the show, with many of the same stunts, only with different planes. But the pacing would eventually pick up with a new stunt or especially dramatic move.

The demonstrations of modern stealth planes were especially exciting. Jet fighters soared so fast that you could see the smoke coming off their fronts and wings. Some fighter jets even flew around with their landing gear out or bomb hatch open, showing off the inside of their bomb storage area.

Some demonstrations were directly in honor of soldiers, including the heritage flight where World War II, Korean, and Vietnam era fighters like the P-51 Mustang and F-86 Sabre planes flew alongside modern fighter jets like the F-22 Raptor.

Of course, the highlight was the Thunderbirds, piloted by the best and brightest of the US Air Force. They deftly coordinated many gravity-defying feats: flying underneath each other, crisscrossing multiple times, and shooting out in a bouquet of vapor trails.

The show also set the stage for an induction ceremony for new members of the US Air Force. Right before the performance of the Thunderbirds, Air Combat Command Gen. Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle gave the new inductees the oath and formally welcomed them aboard. Carlisle declared he was “truly overjoyed to be here,” and also stressed how selective the US Air Force is.

The Air and Water show also provided a miniature State Fair of sorts. Stands selling all sorts of trinkets and food stretched for miles along N Lincoln Memorial Dr. A popular option for food was Northpoint Custard on 2272 N Lincoln Memorial Dr., which offers delicious and affordable burgers and custard treats. After so many speeding planes, what’s better than slowly imbibing some custard?

2015 Milwaukee Air and Water Show

25 thoughts on “Photo Gallery: Triumph of the Thunderbirds”

  1. Gorson says:

    My opinion isn’t popular but heck, it’s a fact. This is a bunch of macho military propaganda shoved down the throats of everywhere in the city. These things are killing machines that terrorize millions around the world. War may be necessary sometimes, but it sure as heck shouldn’t be celebrated. I feel very sorry for the gullible young boys who look at those things and think “cool” … maybe I’ll join the military. Very sad.

  2. tomw says:

    Thank you, Gorson. I’m a disabled Vietnam vet who couldn’t agree more. And by the way, who pays for all the costs of the Thunderbirds and Golden Knights? Are these just “absorbed” by the Pentagon? And, in the age of global warming, has anyone considered the environmental impact? Don’t mean to rain on this “parade” but if we are going to talk about government spending and waste maybe somebody needs to ask. Peace.

  3. AG says:

    Air show haters, that’s a new one. Apparently it’s true, you can always find someone to complain about anything. I’m sorry you two disapprove of the Military’s recruiting strategies. Unfortunately “Uncle Sam wants YOU” posters just don’t seem to have the same effect anymore.

    Gorson, as a point of contention, opinions are inherently by their nature… not facts.

  4. PMD says:

    I also think we need to ban Camouflage clothing from public events. Many people wear Camouflage clothing in at least half of the branches of the military, and allowing people to wear it at public events is shoving macho military propaganda down the public’s throat and could entice small children to want to serve their country someday.

  5. AG says:

    I feel very sorry for the children who see camouflage clothing and think it looks cool.

  6. Casey says:

    What’s the difference between this: http://www.businessinsider.com/putin-just-threw-the-biggest-military-parade-since-the-soviet-union-collapsed-2015-5 which is portrayed negatively and US air shows and parades? I think what bothers some is the double standard.

  7. AG says:

    Casey, do you believe the military participating in an air show is the same as that parade in the story you’ve linked?

    Do you think the goals and motivations for each are the same?

  8. PMD says:

    While I have never attended a parade thrown by Vladimir Putin, I have to imagine they are a tad bit different than a parade in the U.S.

  9. AG says:

    Nope, PMD. They’re the same… don’t be foolish.

  10. PMD says:

    You’re right AG. I don’t know what I was thinking. At the July 4th parade I attended a few weeks ago, a bunch of ominous, heavily armed dudes in dark clothing threatened me with beatings, imprisonment, and death for not cheering loudly enough as the County Sheriff strolled by.

  11. Casey says:

    Yes AG I believe they have the same goal – building patriotism. I”ve attended events for unity day in Moscow and the atmosphere is very similar to the 4th of July but when American media gets the photos they somehow turn it into something threatening.
    PMD’s comment about heavily armed dudes in dark clothing threatening attendees for not cheering lough enough I think shows just how effective the coverage is even if its very far from reality. Sad coming from someone that normally seems to be a tolerant person.

  12. PMD says:

    So you’re parades in Moscow and Milwaukee are just harmless efforts to build and maintain love of one’s country? My apologies if I don’t sufficiently love Vladimir Putin enough for you. The man does kill and imprison political enemies but that’s no big deal really.

  13. CAsey says:

    Is that so much different from Gitmo? I’m not saying either is right but its that the US vilifies others for doing the same thing that they do. Also by that logic does that mean you would be against military shows while GW Bush was president? Don’t always equate a country or its peoples with the head of state.

  14. PMD says:

    Casey I’m not a huge fan of these air shows regardless of the identity of our president, but I do think the first two posters used somewhat overheated rhetoric to denounce them.

  15. AG says:

    Casey, you’re forgetting a major point… When Russia and N. Korea, Iran, (I know I’m throwing out rival countries, but I can’t think of many allies who do this) hold these military parades they are often doing it for the benefit of outsiders. They are showing their strength and how formidable they area…

    That is quite different than showing off skills and capabilities to their own citizens for positive PR to boost recruiting and honor vets.

  16. Casey says:

    AG – other countries do it as well but our media isn’t going to show that because we don’t want to fear our allies so of course we’ll all be very familiar with our rivals. Helps to stoke fear which turns to hate.

    France: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Um2SO80KeJE

    and here’s a good one of NATO forces parading infront of the Russian border: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2968408/Going-toe-toe-Putin-British-military-strength-300-yards-Russian-border.html

    All countries do this but because how its presented to us we have different feelings.

  17. Casey says:

    AG- I don’t know if my comment got blocked or if I just forgot to save it but to boil down what I typed – yes our allies do the same but we don’t want to fear them so we don’t see their military parades on our nightly news.

    Here is one link that shows the US and its allies in NATO do: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2968408/Going-toe-toe-Putin-British-military-strength-300-yards-Russian-border.html

    So yes….the US and it’s allies very much so put on parades for the outside to see and to fear.

  18. AG says:

    Now THAT is the same thing… not the Milwaukee air show. Going back to the original two posts as PMD did, their comments were rather ridiculous.

  19. Casey says:

    What is ridiculous about it? Their comments seem true and that our previous comments agree with theirs that its about building patriotism which includes joining the military.
    Tom’s concern about the expense during a time when some politicians are pushing a fiscal conservative line is also valid.

    Is it fun too watch? I sure think so but the first two comments are valid issues/thoughts/opinions that shouldn’t just be mocked.

  20. PMD says:

    For starters, what the hell is wrong with wanting to join the military?

  21. Casey says:

    I don’t believe anyone said anything was wrong with it or patriotism. Maybe the initial post could be conveyed that way but I took it as joining the military just because it looks fun might be a bit naive.

  22. AG says:

    “This is a bunch of macho military propaganda shoved down the throats of everywhere[sic] in the city.” Yep, everyone was chained to benches at the lakefront and forced to watch.
    “These things are killing machines that terrorize millions around the world.” Scourge of the world, those performers at the Milwaukee air show.
    “War may be necessary sometimes, but it sure as heck shouldn’t be celebrated.” The Milwaukee airshow is celebrating war?

    You don’t think any of those statements are ridiculous? How about the following statement regarding something being wrong with joining the military to which you claimed no one said?

    “I feel very sorry for the gullible young boys who look at those things and think “cool” … maybe I’ll join the military. Very sad.”

  23. Casey says:

    Well…I guess since I didn’t write the comment I’m not in a position to state what their intention was so I’ll leave it to them to clarify.

    I don’t think Gorson’s comment is exactly inaccurate because a supporert could state something very similar using different wording that has the same meaning.
    “Macho military propaganda” = patriotic exhibit
    “killing machines that terrorize millions around the world” = modern military marvels that keep a dangerous world at bay

    The comment about celebrating war can be left up to an individual’s conscience. If it bothers one’s conscience then don’t go to the lake but most city residents still had them flying over their yards and could understand how that might offend some just as having a xmas tree in the state building offends some.
    Obviously the show doesn’t bother your conscience and that’s fine but its the mocking of others whose conscience that it does bother is what seems off to me especially by two regular commentators that usually seem open minded and tolerant of others’ ideas.

  24. PMD says:

    If my mockery was excessive, I apologize, but those first two comments struck me (and still do) as overheated and a little ridiculous. Especially the first one. I don’t see any other way to read it except as the worst thing in the world would be for a young person to go to the airshow and decide to join the military.

    And if an airshow like this is “macho military propaganda being shoved down people’s throats,” what else is? When MLB wears uniforms that honor the military, is that macho military propaganda?

  25. AG says:

    People have the right to speak their opinion… but I also have the right to call their statements ludicrous. Especially when they are exactly that.

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