Susan Stephens / WNIJ

America needs more aircraft mechanics and avionics technicians. Rockford is now home to one of the nation’s only registered apprenticeship programs aimed at filling that need. The U.S. Department of Labor and Rockford aircraft maintenance company Emery Air signed an agreement Wednesday to create a training pipeline for the career that’s in heavy demand.

There are a lot of unfamiliar aircraft in the skies over northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin this week. They’re on their way to the annual Experimental Aircraft Association get-together in Oshkosh. 

Tony Molinaro is with the Federal Aviation Administration for the Great Lakes region. He says as many as ten-thousand small planes converge on the small Wisconsin airport.

You’ll see them in the skies much more often. And not just the regular Pipers and regular planes, you know, the Cessnas. You’ll see the aircraft from WWII and all sorts of unusual planes.

Doug Connell / Engine Studio

Rockford Airfest is canceled this year, but there are still plenty of opportunities for area fans to experience vintage aircraft up close over the next few weeks.