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Chicago’s newest attraction is a love letter to its people | National

Chicago’s bragging rights include a long list of “firsts,” from deep-dish pizza to the very first skyscraper, the Ferris wheel and the creation of the first blood bank. Last month, it added a new feature to its collection, the likes of which the world has never seen.

Flyover in Chicago, a flying ride, debuted in March to a sold-out crowd and overwhelmingly positive reviews. The $45 million project is the first high-speed, FPV (first-person view) drone-powered film ever made. It takes participants on a “flight” up, through and over the streets of Chicago in a non-stop, action-packed nine-minute ride that elicits gasps, screeches and awe from Chicagoans and tourists alike.

However, it goes beyond creating a new experience. The multi-act attraction delves deep into the heartbeat of the city – its residents – and weaves a story showcasing the best the Windy City has to offer.

“The official opening of Flyover in Chicago is a special event for us,” said Lisa Adams, COO and executive producer of Flyover Attractions by Pursuit. “Over the past year, we have had the privilege of hearing stories from Chicagoans from all walks of life, stories that illustrate the grit and tenacity that this incredible city we have come to know and love has. Flyover is our love letter to Chicago, and we can’t wait for everyone to lose themselves in this exciting adventure and experience the city like you’ve never experienced it before.”

In the making, America’s newest Flyover attraction became a gift to the people.

History in the making: a dream team comes together

More than 750 people from around the world came together to bring the project to life, spending more than 500 hours and 20 months in the air, “flying over” to explore and capture what makes Chicago, Chicago.

What started as a dream took over two years to create and required an exceptionally talented group to bring to life. The expert team behind the project includes a Chicago historian, an award-winning producer, a Disney Imagineer and a record-holding drone pilot. The team combined their unique skills to create an experience that captures the essence of Chicago.

The producers consulted Chicago urban historian Sherman “Dilla” Thomas for insight into people, places and stories to incorporate into the film.

Thomas shares, “I want people to know that we are not what they show on the national news. We are not the violent place where everyone walks around lawlessly and everyone gets shot. We are a place for art and culture, museums, Michelin star chefs, muralists and activists who changed the world.”

The country’s oldest and internationally renowned Grammy award-winning youth gospel choir also stars in the film. The children, ages 7 to 17, sing an inspiring song, created for Flyover in Chicago, called “Believe.”

The founder and CEO of Soul Children of Chicago, Dr. Walt Whitman, says, “I believe the world community needs this film now. The people of Chicago need to see it, and I truly believe this will change the spirit of negativity in our city. I believe this film will create a shift and cause movement among young people.”

Believe Chicago, Pursuit’s newest Flyover event

The new Chicago experience marks the fourth Flyover for global attractions and hospitality company Pursuit Collection, which also includes Flyover attractions in Las Vegas, Reykjavik, Iceland and Vancouver, Canada.

Flyover is known for creating immersive air journeys that take visitors on a multi-sensory experience through breathtaking landscapes and iconic locations around the world. Chicago’s debut is Flyover’s first experience focused exclusively on one city.

The producers of Chicago’s Flyover reached new heights with the newly released attraction, pushing the boundaries of what was previously possible.


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“We used to wander around the city with this little drone, flying around and seeing if we could see any interesting angles,” says Rick Rothschild, Creative Director of Flyover.

“The vision was forming, but the technology didn’t exist yet,” Rothschild continues, “so we contacted an absolutely brilliant person named Gabriel Kocher, who has a PhD in astrophysics and is one of the fastest drone racing pilots in the world. He’s on another level as an engineer and inventor of a new kind of drone he recently worked on Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023) and built a new device called the CYBERTRON FPV that moved the camera in a way that had not been done before.

“And then our dream became reality,” concludes Rothschild.

Inside the Flyover experience

The Chicago attraction is a three-part experience that highlights the power of community and the city’s resilience. Video segments show different neighborhoods, people and events that define the heartbeat of Chicago.

“From new drone technology developed specifically for Flyover, to a musical score that introduces new collaborative music, to stories of Chicago told by its residents, this journey will ultimately captivate and entertain viewers with an immersive urban experience that pushes the boundaries of Flyover attractions in both technology and style,” said Adams.

Act 1: Start in Chicago

Flyover begins with an introduction to the culture and cityscape of Chicago. The gallery-style first act features people and places from the suburbs, alongside music designed to inspire and fit the theme of the city.

Act Two: Diving into the heart of Chicago

The second act shifts the focus to stories of the people in the heart of Chicago, accompanied by powerful, original music. The setting is a pre-show theater on wall-to-wall screens with a large circular screen in the center of the room. Visitors view real-life stories and scenes from various Chicago neighborhoods.

Act three: floating over the city

The final act is a nine-minute flight over Chicago, giving guests panoramic views of the city. The flight takes guests on a breathtaking journey past skyscrapers, over a movie set with a car chase, a look inside the Joffrey Ballet studio and even flying through a historic theater where the Soul Children’s Choir performs. All this while showcasing non-stop city life through each carefully timed scene.

The experience consists of a 65-foot spherical screen with seats that move to simulate flight, giving guests the feeling of floating through the air. Sixty people at a time can experience the ride, feeling wind, mist and scents for a fully immersive sensation while hanging in their seats.

Experience Flyover Chicago for yourself

The 48,000-square-foot adventure occupies a space at Navy Pier, directly across from the Chicago Children’s Museum and near the west entrance to the pier. Luxury hotel Sable at Navy Pier offers visitors a luxurious, accommodation-rich stay and opportunities to explore Navy Pier.

Flyover is now open to the public Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Chicago’s signature flyover will be featured at other Flyover locations this year.