Local News

Aerial drone footage of Starved Rock’s foliage will be featured on WTTW special

Program will air tonight

Many visitors have hiked through Starved Rock State Park or driven along Route 71 to view the park’s fall foliage, but WTTW is planning on taking audiences above the trees in its Wednesday night program.

WTTW will air “Beyond Chicago from the Air” beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Chicago’s PBS station.

The program features footage captured by an aerial drone at multiple places of cultural and historical significance from just outside of Chicago.

Among the other highlights of the show will be ski jumping in Fox River Grove, where Olympic athletes train, working steam trains in Union, speedboat racing on the Chain O’Lakes in the summertime and snowmobile racing across the frozen Chain in the winter.

It was built off the idea exhibited in the special “Chicago from the Air,” which premiered last year with drone footage from around the city after host Baer and colleagues were looking to film safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to WTTW. Using a drone high above the urban environment allowed ample social distance.

“After finishing ‘Chicago from the Air,’ we quickly realized there were so many more sights we wanted to explore,” Baer said in a news release. “In ‘Beyond Chicago from the Air,’ our viewers will discover stories we’ve never told before, including tales of the Mississippi River, Illinois farmlands and Native American lore – all from the [point of view] of a high-flying drone camera.”

Other places and events to be highlighted in the latest project include the Great River Road highway along the Mississippi River, a winding riverwalk in Naperville, a close-up view of massive wind turbines at 25-square-mile energy farm and Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

Additionally, the Native American remains known as Cahokia Mounds, near St. Louis, are prominently featured by the newest show captured from above by drones.

Once the show debuts, it will have an accompanying website where behind-the-scenes commentaries from Baer and producer and director Eddie Griffin are available, and it also dives deeper into the history of the former Native American city of Cahokia and the mounds its people created.

“‘Beyond Chicago from the Air’ tells the stories of our region from a new and different vantage point, illuminating and expounding on its rich and fascinating history,” WTTW President and CEO Sandra Cordova Micek said in the release. “With the power and innovation of drone cameras, we hope to take our curious viewers on an unforgettable journey while inspiring them to explore and discover on their own.”

— Shaw Media reporter Sam Lounsberry contributed to this report.