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Pyrotechnic display will be highlight of air show

A highlight commemoratiWings Over Waukegan Air Show will be downed-pilot extractireenactment featuring Vietnam-eraircraft including an CessnL-19 Bird Dog spotter three

A highlight of the commemoration at the Wings Over Waukegan Air Show will be a downed-pilot extraction reenactment featuring Vietnam-era aircraft, including an Cessna L-19 Bird Dog spotter, three A-1 Skyraiders and a UH-1 Huey helicopter. | AP FILE

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Updated: November 5, 2013 3:18AM

Federal budget cuts might have trimmed the star power at air shows around the nation — including the one scheduled for this Saturday, at Waukegan Regional Airport — but Jeff Clark said it best when asked to sum up the 2013 edition of “Wings Over Waukegan.”

“We’ll fly some airplanes and have some fun,” said Clark, returning for another stint as air boss at the annual attraction.

By “have some fun,” Clark referred to a pyrotechnic display that’s been scheduled as a grand finale. Last year, the main attraction was the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbird squadron, making its first appearance in Waukegan, and 2012 also featured both a Navy F-18 Hornet and an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt.

With the Snowbirds in demand elsewhere and the U.S. military cutting back on recruiting flights, Waukegan organizers decided to include the pyrotechnics as part of the 2013 show’s theme, which is a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords that ended the Vietnam War.

Veterans of Vietnam will be asked to join a ceremony at the outset of the show, and Medal of Honor recipient Alan Lynch of Gurnee will be the event’s guest of honor.

Clark said a highlight of the commemoration will be a downed-pilot extraction reenactment featuring Vietnam-era aircraft, including an Cessna L-19 Bird Dog spotter, three A-1 Skyraiders and a UH-1 Huey helicopter.

For the closing pyrotechnics, Clark said, “we’ll blow up the field, and an A-4 Skyhawk will come in and napalm the place.”

“We don’t have the military (aircraft) because of all the budget cuts,” added Clark, “so we thought the pyro show would be different and fun.”

For those planning to head out to Waukegan Regional for the air show — and an estimated 35,000 people did just that in 2012 — here are some basic pieces of information:

• The gates open at 9:30 a.m., and incoming traffic will be guided into the free parking areas from Beach Road and Lewis Avenue and at Yorkhouse and McAree roads. Show organizers are asking motorists to avoid the intersection of Green Bay and Yorkhouse roads to avoid traffic congestion.

Officials are also advising that the best plan is to come in via Lewis to the Beach Road entrance on the east. Green Bay Road and Wadsworth Road on the west and north borders of the airport, respectively, will be closed from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• While parking is free, admission is $10 for adults. Children 12 and younger are free.

• The actual air show will start at noon with the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Chicago Blackhawks’ anthem singer Jim Cornelison, but ground-based aircraft displays and food vendors will be open to the public between 9:30 a.m. and noon.

• Performers for 2013 include Dacy/Kazian Wingwalking and flights by a T-2 Buckeye, an F4U Corsair and a C-47 Skytrain.

Acrobatic teams on the schedule include Team Aerostar, the Hopper Flight Team and the T-28 Warbird Trojan Horsemen.

The show will go on rain or shine through 5 p.m. at Waukegan Regional, 3580 N. McAree Road. For more information, visit

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