August 18, 2011
The performers and aircraft that will thrill million all the lakefront this weekend have arrived. Tomorrow they will put on a dry run of their performances in advance of the official 53 Chicago Air & Water Show that will take place on Saturday and Sunday from 10am - 3pm. Today the teams took members of the media for rides and allowed us to interview the pilots and crew.
My morning started with an opportunity to fly with Team Aeroshell today in their T-6 Texan. The Aeroshell team have been long time regulars of the Chicago Air & Water Show and are an act you should be sure not to miss. Unfortunately, I only captured some very amateurish video because frankly I was just having too much fun.
I also spoke with Thunderbird #6 Major JR Williams who flies the Opposing Solo role during the USAF Thunderbirds performance. He is excited about his first performance over Chicago and said "I've been thinking about this show all year". You can check out my brief interview with him below.
If you have not already, check out my Ultimate Guide to the Chicago Air & Water Show for more on the acts and suggestions on the best places to watch the Chicago Air & Water Show from.
August 13, 2008
Prior to the 2006 Airshow, I had the opportunity to take a flight with Chicago Air & Water Show regulars, the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team. The Aeroshell team is made up of four talented pilots and their T-6 Texan aircraft. Unfortunately, this year the team will be flying a three-plane formation due to a non-flying injury to team leader, Alan Henley.
In late July, Alan was paralyzed from the neck down after a fall in his home. He is currently at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital's trauma unit, where he is listed in serious but stable condition. You can read about his recovery on a CaringBridge.org blog being authored by his wife. My prayers go out to Alan, his family and his teammates.
His twin brother, Mark, will take over as lead pilot for the formation for this weekend's show. I had the opportunity to fly with Mark in 2006. What I took away from meeting Mark and the rest of the team was that they absolutely love their jobs. These guys were extremely passionate about aviation and enjoyed entertaining fans across the country with their flying skills.
I am looking forward to their performance this weekend but saddened that they won't be joined by their team leader, Alan. Get well soon Alan!
August 31, 2006
I have had some great aviation experiences over the past few weeks. I recently had the opportunity to fly with the AeroShell Aerobatic Team as they prepared for the 2006 Chicago Air & Water Show. The four plane team performs in their T-6 Texans, a plane used by the military to train pilots for World War II. The T-6 is a powerful single prop plane capable of inverted flight.
We took off in formation and flew out over Lake Michigan where we flew loops and barrelrolls. It was quite an experience flying inverted and flying a loop and I loved every minute of it. This was my second opportunity to fly with a performance team. Last year I flew in the backseat of of T-34, a plane used by the Lima Lima Flight Team. I uploaded some photos and video from the flight and from my time at the Press Day for the Airshow.
Just days after my experience with Aeroshell I was in beautiful Sedona, Arizona for vacation. While there, my wife and I visited one of the most picturesque airports in america, Sedona Airport (KSEZ). While there we could not pass up an opportunity to take in a flight in a Waco bi-plane and seeing the beauty of the Red Rocks of Sedona from above. This was the first time my wife or I had flown in a bi-plane. Like my flight experience with Aeroshell it was excellent. I have always enjoyed flying my Cessna with the windows open but flying in an open cockpit plane is a wonderful thrill.
With some of my aviation rides out of the way it is time for me to get back into the cockpit. This weekend I am scheduled for my first biennial flight review. During the biennial flight review I will undergo an hour of ground instruction followed by an hour of flight time in which I need to prove to a certified flight instructor that I still have the knowledge and skills to serve as pilot in command. It is an FAA Requirement that must be fulfilled every two years in order to continue to act as pilot in command of an aircraft.