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Milwaukee Air & Water Show looks home and abroad for 2024 lineup

A squadron of nine fighter planes flies in tight formation with colored smoke trailing each jet.
Milwaukee Air & Water Show
The Frecce Tricolori, official aerobatic team of the Italian Air Force, was one of three performances announced for the 2024 Milwaukee Air & Water Show.

It’s hard to imagine when we’re sitting on the leading edge of winter’s chill, but before too long, scores of people will instead be sitting on the edge of Lake Michigan, eyes trained on the sky during the Milwaukee Air & Water Show. Now, we know what they’ll be watching — at least in part.

The event presented by WaterStone Bank recently announced its dates for next summer, returning to McKinley Park and Bradford Beach on July 27 and 28, as well as a trio of scheduled appearances. The lineup includes a pair of previous domestic visitors, the USAF Thunderbirds and the U.S. Army Parachute Team (aka the Golden Knights), as well as an international presence: the Frecce Tricolori (“Tricolor Arrows”), official aerobatic team of the Italian Air Force.

The Thunderbirds last rattled windows along the lakefront in 2019 and will serve as the headline act for 2024. The squadron has been around since 1953 and in that time has performed for more than 280 million people around the world. These days, the Thunderbirds consist of six demonstration pilots at the stick of a Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon.

A squadron of four fighter planes flies in tight formation with smoke trailing behind each jet.
Milwaukee Air & Water Show
The USAF Thunderbirds will be back in Milwaukee for next year's Air & Water Show.

Similar to their Air Force counterparts, it’s been a few years since the Golden Knights’ last appearance at the show. The parachute team’s high standards for membership are reflected in their 348 world records, as well as competition results that include 2,148 gold, 1,117 silver and 693 bronze medals. Along with the Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels — who top-lined the 2023 Air & Water Show — the Golden Knights are one of three aerial demonstration teams officially sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The third team joining the 2024 lineup will travel just a bit farther to perform. The Frecce Tricolori are based in Rivolto, Italy, and — with 10 MB-339s in the squadron — are the world’s largest aerobatic team (as confirmed by the good folks at Guinness).

“We are very honored and excited to perform for the first time in Milwaukee,” Lt. Col Massimilliano, Frecce Tricolori’s Pilot #11, said in a release. “Our multi-colored smoke will form a beautiful arrangement over the blue waters of Lake Michigan.”

Sitting alongside those waters during the show is free, although the Milwaukee Air & Water Show puts a limited number of reserved seats on sale every year. That tends to start in May, so make sure to follow the show on social media (Facebook, Instagram) for updates.