As of July 1st, 2018

Many of the world’s top air and water show performers, including aerobatic champions, and long-time Milwaukee show favorites, the United States Air Force Jet Demonstration Squadron, Army Golden Knights and Navy Leapfrogs military parachute teams, the US Navy F/A-18 Hornet Tactical Demonstration Team and other military and civilian performers, have made commitments to fly during the 2018 Milwaukee Air & Water Show, now set for July 21-22, at Milwaukee’s beautiful lakefront. More exciting performers are yet to be announced in the coming weeks ahead!


“America’s Ambassadors in Blue”

The Milwaukee Air & Water Show is proud to host the 2018 USAF Thunderbirds!   The squadron’s mission is to plan and present precision aerial maneuvers to exhibit the capabilities of modern, high-performance aircraft and the high degree of professional skill required to operate those aircraft. The Thunderbirds squadron is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and more than 100 enlisted personnel. Thunderbirds air demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The four-jet diamond formation demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the lead and opposing solo aircraft highlight some of the maximum capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The pilots perform approximately 40 maneuvers in a demonstration.  Through selfless dedication, a desire to excel and a constant commitment to improvement, these leaders have channeled their efforts into making the Thunderbirds what they are today. More than 120 enlisted personnel, representing nearly 30 career fields, form the backbone of the Thunderbirds.


The United States Army Parachute Team, nicknamed and commonly known as the Golden Knights, is a demonstration and competition parachute team of the United States Army. It consists of demonstration and competition Parachutist teams, drawn from all branches of the Army. Members must demonstrate excellence in parachuting.   The two Golden Knight demonstration teams travel the United States(and occasionally overseas), performing for public audiences at venues ranging from relatively small civic events to nationally and internationally televised events (such as Monday Night Football games, NASCAR races, and large international airshows). The two, 12-member teams travel around 240 days per year, and use the team’s two Fokker C-31A Troopship jump aircraft as their primary means of transportation, and sometimes the UV-18C Twin Otter Series 400 made by Viking.

United States Navy Seals Parachute Team – The Leapfrogs

The United States Navy Seals Parachute Team, nicknamed and commonly known as the Leapfrogs, is a demonstration and competition parachute team of the United States  Navy, and demonstrates professional Navy excellence by performing precision aerial maneuvers throughout the United States in support of Navy public outreach.  The Elite Frogs parachute team is comprised of U.S.Navy SEALs. Whether in the sea, air, or on land, the U.S. Navy SEAL teams are the most feared and respected commando force in the arsenal of the U.S. military special forces, maybe even the world. The United States Navy’s “Sea, Air, and Land” Teams, commonly abbreviated as the Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy’s primary special operations force and a component of the Naval Special Warfare Command.


The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. An array of avionics and electronics systems gives the F-15E the capability to fight at low altitude, day or night, and in all weather. The aircraft uses two crew members, a pilot and a weapon systems officer. Previous models of the F-15 are assigned air-to-air roles; the “E” model is a dual-role fighter. It has the capability to fight its way to a target over long ranges, destroy enemy ground positions and fight its way out.  The F-15E is powered by two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 or 229 engines that incorporate advanced digital technology for improved performance. For example, with a digital electronic engine control system, F-15E pilots can accelerate from idle power to maximum afterburner in less than four seconds, a 40 percent improvement over the previous engine control system. Faster engine acceleration means quicker takeoffs and crisper response while maneuvering. The F100-PW-220 engines can produce 50,000 pounds of thrust (25,000 each) and the F100-PW-229 engines 58,000 pounds of thrust (29,000 each).  The F-15’s superior maneuverability and acceleration are achieved through its high engine thrust-to-weight ratio and low-wing loading. It was the first U.S. operational aircraft whose engines’ thrust exceeded the plane’s loaded weight, permitting it to accelerate even while in vertical climb. Low-wing loading (the ratio of aircraft weight to its wing area) is a vital factor in maneuverability and, combined with the high thrust-to-weight ratio, enables the aircraft to turn tightly without losing airspeed.


The Milwaukee Air & Water Show is proud to announce THE RETURN OF THE A-10 WARTHOG!   Due to military aircraft availability, the A-10 Warthog performance for this year has been revised to a single ship demonstration. The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II jet aircraft was developed  for the USAF, and is commonly referred to by the nicknames “Warthog” or “Hog”, and its official name comes from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, a World War II fighter-bomber effective at attacking ground targets. The A-10 was designed for close air support (CAS) of friendly ground troops, attacking armored vehicles and tanks, and providing quick-action support against enemy ground forces. It was designed around the 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon, and its airframe was designed for durability, with measures such as 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of titanium armor to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems, enabling it to absorb a significant amount of damage and continue flying. The A-10 served in the Gulf War(Operation Desert Storm), the American intervention against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, where the A-10 distinguished itself. The A-10 also participated in other conflicts such as Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and against Islamic State in the Middle East. With a variety of upgrades and wing replacements, the A-10’s service life may be extended to 2040; the Air Force has no planned retirement date as of June 2017.


The Milwaukee Air & Water Show is proud to host, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, a U.S. Navy P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, from the “Fighting Tigers” of Navy Squadron VP-8. The P-8A Poseidon is an aircraft designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The “Fighting Tigers” of VP-8 were commissioned in September 1942 as Patrol Squadron 201 in Norfolk, Virginia. During World War II, VP-201 flew the sea-based PBM Mariner in combat missions against German submarines that threatened Allied shipping throughout the Atlantic. In September 1948, the squadron received its current designation, VP-8. From 1962 through 2016, the Fighting Tigers deployed the P-3 Orion in multiple conflicts and operations in support of American interests around the world. Throughout its history, VP-8 has answered the call to serve in a number of capacities, from monitoring Soviet submarines during the Cuban missile crisis, providing 24-hour support to two carrier battle groups in both maritime and overland combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, to conducting direct support of relief operations in response to the 2010 Haitian earthquake. For over 50 years flying the P-3 Orion, the Fighting Tigers and other maritime patrol squadrons successfully demonstrated their pre-eminent ASW, SUW, and ISR capabilities in every ocean of the world. In March of 2016, VP-8 began its inaugural deployment in the P-8A Poseidon, one of the newest aircraft in the Navy’s warfighting arsenal. Designed to continue the work-horse tradition of the P-3C Orion, the P-8A provides the fleet with more combat capability, responsiveness, and interoperability with both traditional manned forces and evolving unmanned sensors.   Since transitioning to the P-8A, the Fighting Tigers have demonstrated continued excellence in all operational capabilities.   Whether in direct support of the strike group, conducting long-range reconnaissance, anti-surface or antisubmarine warfare, the P-8A is firmly in place as an extension of the eyes and ears of the fleet.   The pride and professionalism of every squadron member serves as a reminder to all of VP-8’s dedication to excellence and service to our nation.


The Air & Water Show welcomes back the 128th Air Refueling Wing’s Boeing KC-135 – Air Refueling Stratotanker aircraft to perform in the air show, on both days, SAT and SUN! The 128th Air Refueling Wing is “Milwaukee’s Hometown Air Force.” The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is a military aerial refueling aircraft. It and the Boeing 707 airliner were developed from the Boeing 367-80 prototype. It is the predominant variant of the C-135 Stratolifter family of transport aircraft. The KC-135 was the US Air Force’s first jet-powered refueling tanker and replaced the KC-97 Stratofreighter. The KC-135 was initially tasked with refueling strategic bombers, but was used extensively in the Vietnam War and later conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm to extend the range and endurance of US tactical fighters and bombers.

Air Show Formation Team

The Firebirds Xtreme are a Nationally and Internationally renowned Aerobatics team. Members Bill Stein, Jack Knutson, Matt Chapman, and Rob Holland thrill crowds from around the world with their breath-taking stunts, and precision formation flying. The Firebirds flight demonstration combines the precision of formation aerobatics with radical gyroscopic tumbles and heart stopping head-on madness guaranteed to keep you on the edge.


Bill Stein puts on a thrilling performance in his unique Edge 540, the paint scheme of which changes color dependent on lighting and the location of the airplane is respect to Bill’s spectators. Bill began flying aerobatics while he was still a student pilot, and has since logged more than 5,000 hours of aerobatic and formation flight. He has been part of the air show performance scene since 1995, and enjoys mentoring new air show pilots as a way to give back to the aviation community Bill Stein has logged over 5,000 hours of aerobatic and formation flight. Bill began flying aerobatics when he was still a student pilot and has been dedicated to perfecting his skills ever since. Since 1995 Bill has performed at air shows all across the United States and has entertained millions air show fans.


Mike Wiskus has been performing airplane stunts for 26 years, and flies a Lucas Oil Pitts Plane and said stunts will include loops, rolls, hammerheads and other visually appealing tricks. Wiskus was also was a 2002 U.S. National Aerobatic Champion and a member of the 2004 U.S. Aerobatic Team. Like many of the show pilots, Mike’s passion for aviation started when he was very young. Mike’s Dad took him to his first air show at their hometown in Iowa at the age of 10. That show made an everlasting impression so deep that at 14, Mike rode his bike to the airport for two weeks straight and bugged the owner for a job washing airplanes and cleaning hangars just to be around airplanes. In school, Mike had a teacher tell him he would never be a pilot. His grades weren’t great and he got into trouble. Later that year a tutor gave him the book The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper. It changed his attitude and it helped Mike believe in himself. He traded his work of washing airplanes for flying lessons and received his Pilot’s License on his 17th birthday.

HH-60J – Jayhawk Rescue Helicopter

Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City was established in 1946 and is a part of the United States Coast Guards Ninth District, and is situated on the southern end of Grand Traverse Bay in northern Michigan. Since 1995, Air Station Traverse City has controlled and manned Air Facilities throughout southern Lake Michigan The Coast Guard completed upgrades to its fleet of 45 MH-60J Jayhawk medium range recovery helicopters in August 2016. Redesignated as MH-60Ts, the upgraded helicopters received new flight instruments and avionics, communications and navigation equipment. Air Station Traverse City is now transitioning back to the HH-60J this summer of 2017. The Milwaukee Air & Water Show is once again proud to feature U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich.


Matt is recognized as an extraordinary aerobatic pilot who thrills millions of airshow fans each summer. He began flying aerobatics in 1984 and quickly worked his way up to the highest level of competition aerobatics – the Unlimited category. Recognized for his skills, he won one of only five slots on the U.S. Unlimited Men’s Aerobatic Team in 1996 and 1998.   At the 1998 World Aerobatic Championships (WAC), Matt was the highest-ranking American pilot, finishing third in the world with a bronze medal. He led the Men’s Team to a silver medal. Along with this impressive finish came the coveted Hilliard Trophy, awarded to the highest finishing U.S. pilot at the WAC.    Matt also won the prestigious International Aerobatic Club Championships in 1994 and the Fond du Lac Cup in 1995.  Matt is both a solo performer and is the flight leader of the 4CE formation aerobatic team.   Matt is also a respected airline captain at a major US based air carrier with tens of thousands of flight hours.

JACK KNUTSON (Firebirds X-Treme Team Member)

The Firebirds Xtreme member Jack Knutson thrills crowds from around the world with  breath taking stunts, and precision formation flying.  Jack Knutson has been an air show performer since 1992 and has performed with three different air show teams. The U S Jet Team performing with three x military jets. The Firebird Delta Team with three Extra 300 aircraft (who performed at NAS Key West in 2004) and The Firebirds x-TREME with Rob Holland. With over 22,000 flight hours under his belt Jack is a true professional as he performs his solo show called the Firebird Freestyle. The 2 ship Formation Act, rightfully titled “The Firebirds X-treme” is a site to be seen. Jack Knutson in his Extra 300/s and Rob Holland in his MXS-RH have created an extremely high-energy, non-stop, two-ship performance that combines the precision of formation aerobatics with radical gyroscopic tumbles and heart stopping head-on maneuvers. Combined with professionally choreographed music and cockpit narration makes this show a great crowd pleaser.

Lt. Colonel Josh “Tater” Boudreaux
(Former US Air Force F-16 fighter pilot)

Wild Blue is the humble little airplane who dreams of becoming a fighter jet. A real-life RV-8A, the character Wild Blue is the brainchild of entrepreneur and Team Owner Ms. LM “Lunar” Sawyer, a veteran air show professional who also narrates each show performance. The Wild Blue Rodeo air show features a combination of high flying thrills and high-concept children’s storytelling. Expertly piloted for the Milwaukee Air & Water Show veteran US Air Force F-16 fighter pilot, Lt. Colonel Josh “Tater” Boudreaux, Wild Blue’s story is woven around an exciting flying demonstration, hoping to inspire children and adults alike to dream without boundaries.