Chicago Air & Water Show rehearsals begin

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city's largest free show of its kind - the Chicago Air and Water Show - is taking place this weekend!

From Gary, Indiana, the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels rehearsed Thursday for the Chicago Air and Water Show. Seeing the tight formation and dramatic maneuvers of the Blue Angels is a highlight for aviation enthusiasts.

"This is one of the most technical shows that we do all year long," said Lt. Col. Mark Hamilton, Blue Angels C130 Demonstration Pilot.

Blue Angel Pilot Mark Hamilton knows the terrain on the ground as well with in-laws in the north suburbs.

"I want some deep Chicago pizza, so I went to gym so I can get that deep dish," Lt. Col. Hamilton said.

"We went to Portillo's last night, so that's always a fan favorite," said Petty Off. 2nd Orri Henkel, Blue Angels C130 Demonstration Team. He's from Rogers Park.

"As an air framer I do structure repair, metal work, hydraulic work anything that has to do with the landing gear or any panel or anything like that so I would do the same job out in the fleet that I do here," Henkel said.

This F22, known as the Raptor, can't land just anywhere. Two Raptors will be part of the show again this year. These stealth fighter jet are functioning thanks to a team, including some from our area, like Tech. Sgt. Benjamin McCormick from Mendota.

"This is like the perfect job for me because you have to do all the troubleshooting, look into all the systems, make sure everything's safe. It's just an outstanding job and I love it," he said.

Crew Chief Alexander Niccum from Elgin thought he would be an air traffic controller until he got around these jets.

"It seems like every day you just get more and more amazed at the things they can do," Niccum said.

You can see for yourself. There's another practice Friday and the show is this Saturday and Sunday.

The 59th annual Chicago Air and Water Show takes place Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at North Avenue Beach. Admission is free.

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.
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