Public invited to view a 100-drone aerial light show

8/28/2019 Debra Levey Larson

Written by Debra Levey Larson

Photo provided by Firefly Drone Shows
Photo provided by Firefly Drone Shows
A musically choreographed flock of 100 drones will take to the sky on Friday, September 20, at approximately 9 p.m. just east of the iHotel and Conference Center in Champaign. The special aerial performance is in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois.

“When the department was founded in 1944, unmanned aerial vehicles—drones, were the stuff of science fiction. Today, they’re used in all sorts of applications and represent one of the cutting-edge technologies our researchers and students are working on in the department,” said Professor and Interim Head of the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering Greg Elliott. “As we kick off a year-long celebration of aerospace at Illinois, we are particularly excited to be able to share this professional drone show with the community.”

The show is produced by Firefly Drone Shows and will be customized with a nod to the department's 75th anniversary.

Much like the Champaign-Urbana fireworks display, the 15-minute light show can be viewed from areas nearby. Special permission has been granted for the public to park in designated lots south of the iHotel – specifically, the Caterpillar, Yahoo, and TekMill parking lots. The map showing the parking lots is available online and on the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering’s Facebook page.

The show soundtrack will be simulcast on WPGU radio at 107.1 FM. Audio can also be heard through WPGU app or TuneIn Radio, both of which are available on the App Store or Google Play.

If it rains on the evening of Sept. 20, the drone show will be rescheduled.

Elliott mentioned another public event scheduled for April 11 as part of the 75th anniversary year. The department will co-host a showing of the movie Apollo 13 at the Virginia Theatre with a panel of aerospace experts following the film.

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This story was published August 28, 2019.