CHICAGO - Some of the most talented and accomplished pilots in the world rehearsed Friday for the 59th annual Chicago Air and Water Show, the city's largest free show of its kind.
"All the risks they take...it's scary to me," said Carol Muscato, of Naperville. "I'd never do anything like that, it's just fun to watch them."
About 2 million people are expected to gather along the lakefront this weekend to see the show.
"People look forward to it, they plan their vacation around this week. They come down and spend the whole day at the beach, enjoying the show and taking a swim at the same time," said John Trick, manager of the Chicago Air and Water Show.
Those who decided to catch the early show Friday said they got a much better vantage point.
"There's less crowds today, better places to sit and the weather was beautiful," said Muscato.
Friday started out cloudy, but the sun came out, clearing up the skies for military pilots to show off months of training and tricks.
Golden Knight says fear is a factor when jumping
At 2,500 feet, Sergeant Federico Sifuentes jumped out of a plane with his fellow U.S. Army Golden Knights in a formation they call "the stack," while practicing for Chicago's Air and Water Show Friday.
"We'll get out individually, pull our parachutes and all make our way back in a perfect stack and everybody landed on target just like you see now," said Sifuentes.
For months the Golden Knights train, making sure they have the right timing and precision. Sifuentes said the type of work they do requires courage, confidence and a little bit of fear.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world...sometimes I am a little bit scared, but it's always good to be scared. I don't ever want to be too confident in a jump, because that's when stuff goes wrong," Sifuentes said.
Sifuentes said nothing compares to the view of Chicago's skyline from up in the sky.
"The view is amazing," he said.
Blue Angels took the sky during a Friday preview
The Blue Angels took to the sky Friday during the Air and Water Show preview. The crowd went wild over the blue and yellow jets.
"The fighter jets and the planes and the stunts that they can do I think it's amazing," said Sue Morrissey of Roscoe Village.
ABC7 Morning News Anchor Terrell Brown and ABC7 Meteorologist Tracy Butler reported live from North Avenue Beach Friday morning and spoke with some of the people who will be featured in this year's show, including Bill Stein of The 4ce, Jimmy Fordham and Steve Gustafson of Aeroshell Aerobatics Team, Lieutenant Colonel Carlos A. Ramos of the U.S. Army Golden Knights, Special Operator First Class Brandon Peterson of the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs, Chicago Air and Water Show Manager John Trick, Chicago Air and Water Show Announcer Herb Hunter and the CFD Marine Unit.
Steve and Jimmy of Aeroshell Aerobatics
US Army Golden Knights
Air and Water Show Manager John Trick
Air and Water Announcer Herb Hunter
CFD Marine Unit helicopter
This year is extra special for Hunter. He'll mark 30 years with the show. The retired U.S. Air Force pilot never uses a script. He only refers to notes he's gathered in a play book over the years. Before becoming the official announcer, the flew in the Chicago Air and Water Show for two years.
ABC7 will feature several stories this week leading up to the Chicago Air and Water Show. For more information about watching the show, CLICK HERE.