August 14, 2014

Dreams Take Flight at Chicago Air and Water Show

airshow_ad.jpgThe Chicago Air & Water Show is back for another year and better than before. In 2013 the annual airshow, the largest free airshow in the country, was missing the fire power of the military acts as a result of sequestration. The return of military acts seems to have sparked greater interest in this year's show. Today at the media day for the event there was nearly double the media participation from 2013 and more than I have seen in the eight years I have covered the show.

Sean D. Tucker, a 20 year veteran of the show, said that this year he has seen bigger crowds at many of the shows he has performed at. Maybe absence does make the heart grow fonder. Anyone that works or lives in the Chicagoland area no doubt learned today that the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are back, and I am sure they will help draw record crowds. They made several appearances over the city today as they made their spot checks in advance of Friday's practice performance and the two weekend demonstrations.

New to the Chicago Air & Water Show
Team AeroDynamix are making their first Chicago Air & Water Show appearance this weekend. The team which has been flying together for over ten years is currently the largest aerobatic team in the world with 12 aircraft. They fly a variety of models of RV Kitplanes including Rv-4, RV-7, RV-8 and RV-8A variations. Most of the pilots built the planes they will be performing in. You might mistakenly think that as home-built aircraft they would not be very sophisticated, but that seemed far from the truth.

I had the opportunity to fly with them today and the RV-4 I flew in was equipped with a Glass Cockpit and Synthetic Vision. A few minutes in this sporty little airplane and I realized why you see so many each year at AirVenture. It is an airplane that seems very fun. The team treated us to a sampling of their tight formation flying over the backdrop of the Chicago Skyline. I look forward to seeing their 15 minute demonstration this weekend.

Rosie the Riveter and the Blue Angels
blue_angles_rosie.jpgThere were a few neat stories behind the scenes at the media day event. One of which was 96-year-old Isabelle Settle, who played a Rosie the Riveter role, during World War II. As a 4'10" woman she was assigned the role of riveting wings and other tight spaces of C-54 Skymaster's at the Douglas Aircraft Company in Chicago. She has had a lifelong interest in aviation and airplanes.

Today she and her 78-year-old sister Ida were the guests of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Several of the pilots including Commander Thomas Frosch spent time with Isabelle talking about her role in WWII and genuinely thanking her for her service and presented her with framed poster signed by the entire team. After meeting with the pilots members of the Blue Angels maintenance team then brought her out to the aircraft and talked about the work they do to maintain the fleet of F/A-18's flown by the team. Isabelle loved the opportunity to share a few of her stories with the team.

Young Eagle Over Chicago
SeanTucker_Young_eagles.jpgWhile the Blue Angels were celebrating 96-year-old Isabelle, 17-year-old Malik Baker was running across the Gary Jet Center tarmac trying to secure a signature that would let him complete a dream experience of his own. Baker, a rising Junior in the JROTC program at Chicago Military Academy one an essay contest to receive a Young Eagles flight experience of a lifetime. A few minutes after I spotted him running off in search of his mother he returned with the necessary Young Eagles paperwork.

The Young Eagles, founded by the Experimental Aircraft Association, is designed to give children between the ages of 8 to 17 an opportunity to experience flight in a general aviation airplane while educating children about aviation. In 2013 Stunt Pilot Sean D. Tucker was selected as the Chairman of the organization that has flown more than 44,000 Young Eagle flights since 1992. In that rich history, never has a Young Eagles flight been accompanied by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Sean Tucker had arranged to fly Malik Baker along the Chicago Lakefront with a Blue Angels escort. After which Sean took Baker out to a practice area where he let him fly the plane and walked him through a variety of aerobatic maneuvers. Malik commented about his experience "I love it, I will never forget this day."

The Young Eagles offer flight experiences throughout the country, you can learn more on the EAA Website.

Living the Dream
Living_the_dream.jpgIt was another great Chicago Air & Water Show media day for me as well. I enjoyed flying the Archer III from Chicago Executive along the lakefront early this morning to participate in the event. Shortly after I arrived at Gary International the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) was put in place along the lakefront to clear the airspace for the airshow performers. So after the show with the TFR still in place I needed to fly West of Gary and go north along the west side of O'hare. I of course did not perform any aerobatics flying back in the Archer, but I spent some time thinking about how blessed I am to be a pilot and have the opportunity to enjoy aviation.

Just over 10 years ago I decided to make my dream of flying a reality and earned my pilots license. Along they way I have enjoyed some amazing aviation adventures. All of which I never would have experienced if I had not been so moved by aviation at a young age that forged that dream in me. I hope if you are in the Chicago area you will come out to the Chicago Air & Water Show this weekend, bring your kids, neighbors or friends. You never know it just might inspire the next pilot!

Posted at 10:23 PM | Post Category: Chicago Air and Water Show | Comments (16) | Save & Share This Story

August 12, 2014

Blue Angels Headline 2014 Chicago Air and Water Show

2014_chicago_air_water_show.jpgThe 2014 Chicago Air & Water Show roars back to life this week. The 56th Chicago Air & Water Show will feature the return of military acts that missed last year's show due to sequestration. Crowd favorites the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will be the headline act, supported by the U.S. Army Golden Knights, U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor and MV-22 Osprey. Although the military performances get much of the attention, the Chicago Air & Water Show has another stellar line-up of civilian performers and teams including Sean D. Tucker, Team Aeroshell, Chuck Aaron and the Red Bull Helicopter, Team Aerostars and the Warbird Heritage Museum foundation A-4 Skyhawk.

New to the Chicago Air & Water Show in 2014 is Team AeroDynamix, the largest aerobatic team in the world flying 12 RV-8, RV-7, and RV-8a kitplanes. We are scheduled to fly with them on Thursday and will share some photos and videos later in the week.

We have prepared our 2014 Chicago Air & Water Show guide which includes information on the performers and tips on the best places to watch the Chicago Air & Water Show. The city is expecting approximately two million people to come out this year, but if you are not a fan of big crowds we recommend checking out the Friday practice show. Teams will run their full performances in preparation for the weekend show. The practice show and the weekend shows will begin around 10am and run through 3pm with the finale being the performance by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

chicagoairwatershowguideCTA.jpgWhenever large crowds congregate it typically means you can expect slower than usual data connections for your smartphones. This year AT&T is planning to make sure the tweets, instagrams and Facebook posts of the millions enjoying the show can be shared with millions more. AT&T is testing a temporary antenna to boost signal in the area so your messages don't time out. Paul Biasco of DNAInfo reports that AT&T installed an 18-beam Luneburg Lens Antenna last week in preparation for the Chicago Air & Water Show. "It's the first time they have deployed the device anywhere in the country to combat what they call the 'look at me' or 'look where I am' effects."

Though, if you really want to capture the sights at the Chicago Air & Water Show we recommend this airshow photography guide to help you make the most of your photos from the event.

Check throughout the week for updates or follow us on Twitter for updates during the week!

Posted at 7:03 AM | Post Category: Chicago Air and Water Show | Comments (7) | Save & Share This Story