Student pilots get day of surprises in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A group of student pilots from across the country had a day full of surprises during their visit to Chicago, where they were introduced to several airmen who hope to help their careers take flight.

The students are part of the Tuskegee Next program, and they've been training for weeks to get their pilot license.

As a reward, the aviation hopefuls attended a Good Morning America taping on North Avenue Beach Thursday. At the show, paratroopers dropped down with a special treat: plane tickets and invitations to see Chance the Rapper appear on GMA Friday morning.

As if that wasn't enough, the students were then given a tour of United Airlines' biggest plane, the 777, by pilots who were just as excited to see them.

Capt. Bill Norwood, a Tuskegee pilot and aviation trailblazer, was among the airmen to take the young people under his wing.

Norwood, who was the first black pilot to fly for United Airlines, shared some of his experiences with the students.

"Not everyone in the industry wanted to see African American pilots, so you had to make sure, I made sure that I was very good," Norwood said.

Capt. Brian Jackson, a pilot for United, said meeting the students is "a way to give back."

"It's a way to see the pilots grow and see their faces as I was," Jackson said.

Many of the future pilots said the day left them inspired.

"Being there it really got to me, like I can be sitting here one day," said Gelila Getachen, a Tuskegee Next student.

"I'm just happy. This is my favorite place," said Marc-Anthony Colon, a student. "I aspire to be a captain for the Triple-7 one day."
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