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Photo Essay: Air & Water Show ruled the skies over Milwaukee

The skies over Milwaukee were filled with vintage planes and futuristic supersonic jets for the annual air show along Lake Michigan.

Organizers of the Milwaukee Air & Water Show announced the of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to headline this year’s show on July 25 and 26 along Milwaukee’s lakefront.

In addition to the highly anticipated return of Thunderbirds, other military performers for the 2015 show included the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Demonstration Team and the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, “The Leap Frogs.”

Spectators were able to witness the pride, precision, and professionalism of the Thunderbirds in a demonstration along Milwaukee’s premier lakefront. Since the team’s inception in 1953, the Thunderbirds have been representing America’s Air Force. This year’s visit, one of 40 scheduled performances on the Thunderbird’s 2015 show schedule, marked the team’s first appearance in Milwaukee since 2011.

“It was a great honor to welcome the Thunderbirds back to Milwaukee,” said Philip Vollrath, co-founder and chairman of Vollrath Associates and chairman of the Air Show Board of Directors. “The Milwaukee Air & Water Show has been privileged to provide entertainment for the entire family, and create a patriotic tribute of respect to our armed services and veterans communities.”

In addition to a strong roster of military performances, the world-class lineup of civilian performers was led by the Breitling Jet Team. Based in Dijon, France, the prestigious aerobatic display team is the first and largest of its kind. Comprised of seven L-39 C Albatros jets that can reach speeds up to 565 MPH, the team has flown in 36 countries across the globe. Milwaukee was their stop number nine on its 20 city inaugural U.S. tour.

Joined by representatives from the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, organizers also announced the local chapter of the national organization, Honor Flight, as the official event charity of the Milwaukee Air & Water Show. Stars and Stripes Honor Flight honors all veterans by flying WWII, Korean War and terminally ill veterans from other conflicts to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorials.

As the official event charity, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight veterans received special tributes each day of the show, in addition to enjoying prime show viewing and accommodations. To help Stars and Stripes Honor Flight continue its mission, the air show donated a portion of reserved ticket sales to the organization.

“We believe this is the perfect platform to connect past and present members of our armed services, and connect all generations of Americans to our military heroes,” said Paula Nelson, president of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Other exciting civilian acts in the 2015 show included the return of the Aerostars Formation Aerobatic Team, Firebirds X-Treme Aerobatic Team, Team AeroDynamix, and U.S. Coast Guard HH-65A Rescue Helicopters.

“Proven to be an economic engine for Milwaukee tourism, the Air & Water Show has generated millions of dollars in visitor spending each year, while showcasing our beautiful lakefront and the very best this city has to offer,” said Paul Upchurch, president and CEO, VISIT Milwaukee.

Entering its seventh consecutive year as one of the top air shows in the Midwest, the 2015 Milwaukee Air & Water Show attracted over 300,000 residents and visitors over the event weekend.

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