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What’s happening at this year’s MKE Air and Water Show

A blue U.S. fighter jet parked on a runway with the sun setting in the background.
Children of Fallen Heroes / Facebook
A plane from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels squadron prior to the 2022 Milwaukee Air & Water Show.

Everything about the Milwaukee Air & Water Show is big. The crowds, the performances, the noise — all of it gets cranked up past 11, which is how the event became a lakefront summertime staple. People just don’t get tired of seeing stuff go fast or flip or twist, sometimes all at once.

Since 2004, the show has commanded attention in and above the shores of Lake Michigan, attracting as many as 1.2 million people to Milwaukee for the two-day event. This year’s iteration officially starts Saturday morning, but of course you’ll see (and definitely hear) a preview Friday if you’re anywhere near downtown as performers get in a little practice between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The show itself is Saturday and Sunday (daily schedule below), rain or shine, with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels getting top billing for the second year in a row. The squadron will bring a couple new wrinkles to town, flying F/A-18E Super Hornets for the first time in Milwaukee and welcoming its first female combat fighter pilot, U.S. Navy Lt. Amanda Lee. Organizers expect the Blue Angels to perform at approximately 3 p.m. both days.

The show is free, although it does offer reserved parking and seating (check the website to see what’s still available). The event grounds are along Lincoln Memorial Drive between Bradford and McKinley beaches, but if you’re looking for the best spot, the show’s center point is right across from Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum at McKinley Park.

This year’s lineup is the usual mix of military and civilian performers (see the full list below). Beyond what’s happening in the air and water, you can shop for clothing and other souvenirs, check out sponsor displays and visit with military representatives. There will also be plenty of food and drink vendors on hand, from snacks to sandwiches and beer to barbecue.

You can find more information below, as well as on the Milwaukee Air & Water Show website.

Daily schedule (Sat. and Sun.)

  • 8 a.m. — Parking lots open
  • 9 a.m. — Gates open
  • 10:30-11:30 a.m. — Water show
  • Noon-4 p.m. — Air show
  • 3 p.m. — U.S. Navy Blue Angels

Note: There are no exact scheduled time slots for any performer. Event schedule is subject to change due to weather and mechanical availability of air/water craft.

Military air performances

  • U.S. Navy: Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron — F/A-18 Super Hornets
  • U.S. Navy: Blue Angels C-130 Squadron — Fat Albert Demonstration
  • U.S. Air Force: F-16 Viper Demo Team — Tactical Demonstration Team, 20th F.W., Shaw AFB
  • U.S. Navy: P-8 Poseidon
  • U.S. Navy: F-35C Lightning II — Fly-Bys Only
  • U.S. Navy: E2 Hawkeye
  • U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight: F-16 and Warbirds
  • Wisconsin Air National Guard: 115th Fighter Wing — Northop Grumman F-35 Lightning II
  • Wisconsin Air National Guard: 128th Refueling Wing — KC-135 Strato-Tanker
  • U.S. Army: AH-64E Apache Attack Helicopters — Flight of Two
  • U.S. Navy: Sikorsky MH-60T — HSC-5 — Nightdippers
  • U.S. Air Force: B-2 Spirit / USAF B-1B Lancer / USAF B-52 Stratofortress
  • U.S. Coast Guard: MH-60T Jayhawk — SAR Helicopter Demo
  • U.S. Coast Guard: HC-144 Ocean Sentry — Maritime / SAR Patrol Aircraft
  • North American B-25 — WWII Bomber, “Miss Mitchell” (Sunday only)

Civilian air performances

  • Trojan Thunder — T-28 Trojan 6-10 Ship Formation Act featuring Paul Walter of Waukesha
  • Children of Fallen Heroes Parachute Team
  • Five-time World Aerobatics Champion Rob Holland
  • Susan Dacy — Big Red Boeing Super Stearman, A Salute to the Golden Age of Aviation
  • Jeff Mawhinny — GB-1 Gamebird, Xtreme Acro Airshow

Water performances

  • Casanova’s Marine Classic Fireboat
  • The Boathouse Marine
  • Great Lakes Watercross — Xtreme Jetski (sponsored by Cedar Creek Motorsports)
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department Marine Patrol Enforcement Boat
  • Milwaukee Fire Department Trident Fire Boat
  • U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Boat