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Chicago Air and Water Show 2012 set to start

Friday, August 17, 2012
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More than 1 million people are expected to hit the lakefront this weekend for the Chicago Air and Water Show.

Friday saw a preview of the weekend's action as planes roared through the sky over Chicago.

"A little bit scary. I keep hoping, okay, turn your engine back on, turn your engine back on. But it's great," said Thelma Uzonyi.

The brilliant blue sky became a canvas for power and precision.

"I really like the jets. I just like how they fly around and make a lot of noise," said Patti Cesarini.

"We're all going to wake up with stiff necks tomorrow," said Donna Crawley.

The Navy SEAL Leapfrogs hopped out of the sky with a giant American flag Friday morning. It is practice day, and they are revving up before the weekend show. One Navy SEAL is communicating with the jumpers as they float down. He will actually parachute Saturday with a jump from around 3,000-4,000 feet.

"Parachutes are open rather quickly. We do a couple of formations and bring in the American flag," said Navy SEAL Brad Woodard.

The Navy Blue Angels will, as usual, be a highlight of the show.

"Coming to get to watch the Blue Angels, you're going to see what your military is capable of doing," said Blue Angels public affairs officer Lt. Katie Kelly, who hails from north suburban Elgin.

Herb Hunter is the announcer of the Air and Water Show for the 25th year. He reminded us why this is the largest event of its kind.

"Because of how it started, the park district doing it for the kids in the summer programs, it has just grown to be a monster show, and it still has the same heart," said Hunter.

And then there's the Red Bull Air Force Team. Charles Bryan, who's from Chicago, has leaped out of jets about 14,000 times, and he'll do it again this weekend in an unforgettable routine.

"We jump really fast, coming down with smoke blazing off of our feet, and two guys will come down with wingsuits... We fly down over Chicago, and Kirby will fly circles around us," said Bryan.

The group of daredevil skydivers' 'wingsuits' turn them into 100 mile-an-hour human gliders.

"It's an addicting sport. Once you do it, you feel flight. You taste flight. You want to do more every time," said John Devore of the Red Bull team.

Asked if the guys were missing a fear gene, Air and Water Show manager John Trick said "They got a gene that I don't have. I wouldn't do it, that's for sure."

Though the show turns 54 this year, many say it never gets old.

"The next two days we'll be up on our rooftop and taking it in from up there. It's my wife's favorite weekend of the summer," said Tom Walden.

"I've been involved in the show for 34 years. It is, without question, at least to me the finest air show in the world," said Herb Hunter.

The show begins Saturday and continues on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. It is centered at North Avenue Beach.

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