Your Questions About Night Jumps Answered!!

Members of the Black Demonstration Team perform a night pyro jump over Eau Claire, Wisconsin (photo by SSG Ben Borger)

We have received many comments and questions about our night pyrotechnic jumps in the past few days. As the Soldier in charge of the pyrotechnic equipment for the Black Demonstration Team, who performed the night jump over El Paso, TX on Friday night, I would like to take a few moments to describe in detail the process we go through to perform a night jump, and to take away some of the “mystery” that currently surrounds our night operations. Here are the answers!

Question: How do you carry the pyro flares when you jump?

Answer: The pyro flares, which are about six inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter, are connected to a metal bracket worn on the jumper’s boot heel. The pyro sticks are bundled in groups of seven and burn for about 30 seconds, so one bundle will give the jumper three and a half minutes of white sparks.

Question: How do you pull of the whole “hovering and reverse trajectory thing?”

Answer: “Hovering and reverse trajectory” is a really fancy way of saying that we opened our parachutes, slowing from 120 mph to about 12 mph in a matter of seconds, then started steering our parachutes around in preparation to land. Because the change in speed is so sudden and dramatic, it can appear to spectators on the ground that the jumpers are hovering. Nope, they are simply gliding gently to the ground under their black and gold canopies. One fan asked if we had “jet packs,” and the answer is NO…we wish! Our parachutes have a forward speed of 22 miles per hour, and with the pyro sparks burning under the canopy, it appears that we are going pretty fast.

Question: How do you form a triangle in the air?

Answer: Once the parachutes are open, the jumpers fly to a spot upwind of the target so they can spiral down for their landing approach. From afar, if the jumpers are in the right spots, it appears that they are forming a triangle, however, it’s just an optical illusion.

Question: (specifically about the El Paso jump Friday) Why were there three flares when the parachutes opened, then a fourth became visible after they were hovering?

Answer: During freefall, not all of the jumpers in the formation ignite their pyro sticks. One of the jumpers, SFC Arlyn Slade, waited until he was under canopy to ignite his flares because he was performing canopy relative work with his CRW partner, SSG Todd Beckel. As soon as their canopies were together, SFC Slade ignited his pyro, creating the fourth flare.

Question: How exactly do you ignite the pyro sticks?

Answer: Each of the sticks is fitted with a wire, which has a tiny blasting cap on one end, and bare wires on the other. The bare wires are connected to a custom-made electronic box about the size of a pop can. The box sends a pulse of electricity every 28 seconds to light off one of the sticks, and since each stick burns for 30 seconds, it creates a continuous flow of sparks. Once the jumper is near the ground, he or she can switch the box off, so that no more electrical signals are sent, and no more sticks will ignite. If the jumper landed with the pyro burning, it is possible that his or her canopy could be burned by the sparks.

Question: Does the Fokker (our jump aircraft) have navigation lights for night jumps?

Answer: Our aircraft has the same navigation lights as any other aircraft in accordance with FAA regulations. Our jumps are performed from 12,500 feet above the ground…that’s nearly two and a half miles straight up…so unless you knew EXACTLY where to look, the aircraft lights would be very difficult to see from the ground, especially in an urban environment with lots of ambient ground lights.

Black Team will be performing night jumps at the Fort Worth Alliance Air show October 29th and at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio November 5th. If you’d like to see a night pyro jump for yourself, come check it out! We will be posting pictures and video of those night jumps here on our website.

Well, I hope this answers at least some of your questions. We enjoy telling the American public about what we do and how we do it, so we welcome your questions and queries.

Blue Skies!!

  • One 10

    THANK YOU Rachel and the Golden Knights! I have been discussing this topic on various conspiracy websites, and many people have very odd questions which they think disproves the idea that the honorable Golden Knights were responsible for the UFO sighting. This blog post answers many questions they have, however, it’s like a religion to them. Some of them will not believe anything anyone says, and they are requesting that someone shows them a video that looks 100% identical to the original El Paso video report before they believe anything. It would be great to see example videos that leave no doubt in ones mind if you have any laying around, or if you can film some at the next show. Many of us can see the original El Paso video was out of focus, and black and white, etc., so this may too be something the public will use to argue. If only you all had more night videos on YouTube from the ground…. :)

    • Rachel Medley

      Thank you for your comment! We are actually performing two more night jumps in Texas at the end of this month and the beginning of November. One at the Fort Worth Alliance Air show on 29 Oct and the Lackland Air Force base on 5 November. In light of recent events, we will definitely be taking video from the ground as well:-) We strongly encourage anyone who has any doubt whatsoever that we are the ones responsible for the “strange lights” in El Paso to take the drive up to the Dallas/Ft Worth or San Antonio area and see for themselves. It will be quite a show!

      Blue Skies!

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Your Questions About Night Jumps Answered!! — US Army Golden Knights --

  • Gala Apples

    Do you do jumps during thunder and lightning storms over the ocean in coastal areas? A video taken from Marco Island in Florida has the same lights changing formations. It was filmed on September 14th. Just curious about whether or not this could have been your group. Also curious about the safety of jumping during storms, if indeed, the Golden Knights or other military paratroopers do. Thanks, in advance, for your answers.

    • Rachel Medley

      Thanks for your question, it’s a good one! We have certain weather restrictions that govern our jumps, and here they are in a nutshell: the clouds must be a minimum of 2000 feet (since we can’t jump through clouds and 2000 feet is our minimum jump altitude), and the winds on the ground must be less than 20mph, with a gust spread not to exceed 10mph. Now there are many variables that are up to the Team Leaders discretion based on his knowledge of the jumpers’ ability and experience, such as the winds at altitude. If the winds are 70 knots at 12,000 feet, it’s too dangerous because we could get blown too far away from the target. Sometimes the landing area is extremely tight with many obstacles, so the Team Leader may cancel the jump even if the winds are less than 20mph. We would not jump in a lightning storm. It’s far too dangerous for us, as well as the spectators on the ground. Thunderstorms are known for their updrafts and downdrafts, as well as unpredictable wind patterns. This could prove deadly for a jumper under canopy and we simply would not take that risk. It is the same for paratroopers in the Army in general…they have stringent guidelines regarding airborne operations, and lightning storms are off limits!

      Thanks for your support and please let me know if you have any other questions!

      Blue Skies!

  • terry the censor

    GK: Please don’t be discouraged by the idiots challenging you on the other posts. They will never ever accept facts that disconfirm their UFO and conspiracy dogma.

    • Dave Herwig

      Thank you Sir.. This attention has made for some fun days at the Team HQ

  • One 10

    Thank you again for your reply Rachel. Be aware that now, in the UFO community, out of lack of understanding, and or ridicule, and or as a joke, people are saying that every UFO is a Golden Knight, or a skydiver with pryotechnics. Some just are not happy with the answers they are given. Personally, I knew it was the Golden Knights from the beginning. The Golden Knights are AWESOME, I envy your jobs.

    Stay safe!

  • Mark

    Why was the team performing maneuvers near El Paso so late at night? Exactly what time did you perform this jump?

    • Dave Herwig

      As to the exact time of the jump, not sure, but the Team did a jump for the Amigo Airshow. The night jump was for a social event at the Airshow.

      • Rachel Medley

        The jump was at 7:00pm local time. We landed in front of the large hangar near the tower at Biggs Army Airfield.

  • Robert Krieckhaus

    I appreciate your answers on this special topic, and I really admire the skill you guys show. I hope you will answer Mark’s Question as to time. Someone needs to align the TV shot and your practice in time and in place just to reassure the eternal skeptics among us. Thanks.

  • Deborah Roach

    Just wondering if you all were jumping around in the sky on the evening of March 23rd over Carbon, Texas. My husband and I saw a similar thing in the sky. This was also witnessed by several people around the area in Cisco, Breckinridge, DeLeon.

    Sure would like to have an explanation of what we saw!


    • Dave Herwig

      No we did not jump on the 23 Mar in Carbon, TX.

  • Mary Ann

    Were you performing in Kentucky on Oct. 22nd? My 2 sons ages 12 & 17 and myself saw very similar lights hovering in the sky northeast of the Cincinnati airport. We did not see streaks of light but solid glowing balls of light; three at first then a 4th one appeared. Sometimes they were in a triangle then separated. The lights were not constantly on. One would go off then appear in another spot. They eventually moved away out of our viewing.

    • Rachel Medley

      No we didn’t perform that day. We will be performing this coming up weekend at Fort Worth, with a night jump Friday night. Thanks for your interest!

      Blue Skies!

  • Conspiracy

    This is a perfect group to cover up the UFOs! Awesome now any time there are more ufos we can just say it was parachutes!

  • mark androff

    I live in Alexandria, VA and have a expansive SE view.
    In connection with your team beig in DC for the Army run,
    did you conduct a night jump, location I would think to be FT Belvoir?

    I noticed originally what I thought to be an airliner in serious distress,
    looked very much like a night time version of the break up of the space shuttle.
    After I was able to get my binoculars, I believe that I interpreted what I was
    observing to be a parachute jump. I was amazed that there were no reports of this awesome display in the local media.

    Hoping to confirm that I did get it right!

  • Jack

    How do you deploy the parachute without having the sparks ignite the canopy on inflation?

  • Kristina torres

    Were u guys in lake Elsinore on January 6th 2011? There is a bunch of people going crazy because they think they are ufo’s. I tried telling my friend it was some type of night jumpers she got so mad cause I didn’t believe it was something paranormal. And now were no longer friends do to her conspiracy B.S. Any info well be helpful. Thanks

Blog Roll