Members of the Navy Lima Lime Flight Team take a practice flight over Gary, Ind.
It’s a can’t-miss summer entertainment combo: waves, sky, music, the national anthem and the roar of jet engines packing 35,000 pounds of thrust.
This month in Milwaukee, the sky is no longer the limit. Because the annual Milwaukee Air & Water Show is partnering with the U.S. Navy’s commemoration of The War of 1812 Bicentennial to bring what organizers call one of the biggest flight, land and water shows ever seen here Aug. 6 through Aug. 13.
Milwaukee was one of 15 cities chosen to be part of the Navy remembrance of the United States/Britain conflict that’s sometimes called “America’s second war of independence.” Public events will include tours of U.S. and foreign warships docked at our lakefront, along with Navy personnel meet-and-greets, drills and a military band concert.
So why is the Navy going all-out to commemorate the War of 1812 in Milwaukee?
Rear Adm. Gregory Nosal, commander of Carrier Strike Group Two and the spokesman for naval events here, said this war “was significant because we weren’t sure what would happen with our nation. Most of us learn very little about that war. We learn about the revolution and bypass 1812 to fast-forward to the Civil War in our history studies.
“But the War of 1812 was significant because it was the rebirth of our Navy. We met the challenge from the British Royal Navy, and we showed we were a nation to be reckoned with,” Nosal said.
The Milwaukee stop came about because of the city’s “huge Great Lakes/Navy connection,” and the fact “we haven’t had warships in the area since 1999,” Nosal said.
During Navy Week, the public can see some of “the best ships in the world” and “they’ll see the great technology and witness what your Navy is doing every day,” Nosal said.
Here’s the rundown on key events in our upcoming surf and sky extravaganzas:
Milwaukee Navy Week
The age-old cry of “Fleet’s in!” will be the appropriate shoutout across Milwaukee during this week, Nosal said.
At least four ships will be in port and available for public tours. The frigate USS De Wert, the coastal patrol ship Hurricane, the cutter USCGC Neah Bay and the Canadian frigate HMCS Ville de Québec will be in Milwaukee from Aug. 8 to Aug. 13.
The USS De Wert docks at the Port of Milwaukee Liquid Pier 5 and will be open for tours from noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 9, from noon to 3 p.m. Aug. 10, from noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 11 and from noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 12.
The USS Hurricane will be open for tours from noon to 7 p.m. at the Discovery World Pier from Aug. 9 through Aug. 12.
The HMCS Ville de Quebec and USCGC Neah Bay will be at Liquid Pier 5 from Aug. 9 through Aug. 12, with tour times not yet set. The Neah Bay will only be open for tours Aug. 9 as the crew schedule allows.
The Bicentennial Commemoration here actually kicks off at 9 a.m. Monday with a flag-raising at the War Memorial Center, along with a short presentation about the significance of the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Francis Scott Key was inspired to write its lyrics when he saw “the rockets’ red glare” during a War of 1812 battle, and the presentation will describe the anthem’s history.
Navy events continue Aug. 9-10 at Discovery World, 500 N. Harbor Drive. Among the niftiest: A Navy diver will dive into the Discovery World aquarium while another diver outside the tank explains military diving equipment; check www.discoveryworld.org for times.
“Robotics will also be demonstrated outside the tank. It’s one more element that is making this year’s Navy Week truly unique,” said Rich Cieslak, Discovery World spokesman.
The grand tradition of military bands gets a fresh take at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 when the 40-member Navy Band Great Lakes Wind Ensemble performs a free show in the Discovery World outdoor amphitheater. The set list includes everything from Sousa marches to modern wind band selections.
Twenty vintage boats from the Antique and Classic Wooden Boat Society will also be on free display Aug. 11-12 at the Discovery World dock.
The 12-man U.S. Coast Guard Silent Drill Naval performs for free on Aug. 9 at 11:45 a.m., and 3 and 7 p.m., and on Aug. 10 at 8:45 and 11:45 a.m. on the Discovery World grounds.
The U.S. Coast Guard Historic Ship’s Company costumed re-enactors will be at Discovery World giving visitors a look back in time to the early 19th century; hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 10-11 and noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 12.
Visit www.navyweek.org/milwaukee2012 for the most up-to-date information on ship tour schedules and other Navy Week events.
The Milwaukee Air & Water Show
Aug. 11 and Aug. 12
Billed as “Milwaukee’s Biggest Free Event,” the Milwaukee Air & Water Show, which started in 2002, takes over Milwaukee’s lakefront from Bradford Beach to Veterans Park.
How many people will see the show? Count the number of craning necks in a five-mile radius catching the flyovers.
This year, Air & Water Show organizers also are partnering with the “Field of Honor: A Salute to the Greatest Generation” taking the action off-site at Miller Park on Aug. 11.
At 3:30 p.m. at Miller Park, the “Field of Honor” commemoration opens with World War II re-enactors, live music, an air show pilot autograph booth, an art fair and a display of the official World War II Memorial model. The salute formally gets under way at 6:30 p.m. with a parachute jump into the stadium by the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs “Navy Seals,” the 440th Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules and a special flyover from the Lima Lima Flight Demonstration team, one of the world’s only civilian formation aerobatic teams. Fireworks close the show.
The “Field of Honor” event will include the world premiere screening of the documentary “Honor Flight,” about World War II veterans flying to visit the World War II memorial in Washington D.C. Organizers say they hope to set an official Guinness World Record for attendance at a movie premiere.
“Field of Honor” tickets are $11 (plus service fees) and can be purchased at www.starsandstripeshonorflight.org or www.brewers.com/fieldofhonor, or by calling (414) 902-4000. Parking is $10; free admission for children younger than 2.
The Air & Water Show’s main event stretches along Milwaukee’s lakeshore on N. Lincoln Memorial Drive. Herb Hunter, the “voice” of the air show, will be heard on loudspeakers from about Bradford Beach to McKinley Beach.
The water show begins at 9 a.m. each day on the lakefront, with the air show to follow until about 4 p.m. (Early warning, Milwaukee: The air show practice date is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 10, so there will be thunder in our skies).
On the waves, look for the JetSki Stunt Shows, U.S. Coast Guard HH-65C Rescue Helicopter and the Milwaukee Fire Department Fireboat.
The Air & Water Show also has a list of headliners in the sky, starring the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Aerial Demonstration Team. The Raptor team last appeared in the Milwaukee air show in 2010, and the F-22 remains the world’s only operational fifth-generation fighter, according to Master Sgt. Ambrose Brewer, superintendent of the demo team.
The aircraft “can shoot the enemy before the enemy sees it. It allows us to keep air supremacy to protect our shores with live missiles at such altitudes that it can’t be seen,” says Brewer.
But, hoo-boy, will Milwaukee crowds be able to see The Raptor: The plane will fly as low as 300 feet during the show, says Brewer. The demo team will show off what Brewer describes as “the most maneuverable fighter aircraft in the world.”
How loud? Brewer says, “With 35,000 pounds of thrust for each engine, it’s going to be very loud.”
Other sky headliners will include the Black Diamonds Civilian Jet Demo Team, The Leap Frogs, the Marine MV-22 Osprey Tilt Rotor, the Northrop T-38 Talon twin-engine supersonic jet trainer, the U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet and the U.S. Air Force T-38 Talon Four Ship Formation.
Although the air show is free to the public, visitors can buy reserved-seat tickets. For details on various ticket packages, visit www.milwaukeeairshow.com.