Justin Brayton took an exhilarating new ride today with the United States Army Parachute Team Golden Knights Tandem Section at the Wide Open MX Park in Raeford, North Carolina.
Prior to the jump, SSG Joe Abeln conducted a tandem class for Justin and Heath at the teams drop zone at Laurinburg-Maxton Airport, in Laurinburg, NC.Following the official training, changing into the black and gold Golden Knight jumpsuit, fitting of helment, gloves, goggles, harness and practice jump from the mock airplane door in the hangar they were ready to go.
SSG Abeln, Justin, and SFC Brian Krause, 8-Way Team leader and photographer along with SFC Kurt Isenbarger Heath Rowe’s tandem master and SFC Larry Miller, photographer headed out to the teams UV-18 “Twin Otter.”
The Otter circled over the MX Park as the crowd gathered around below peering above to catch a glimpse of the plane. The wind streamers came falling from the sky and kids jumped up and down shouting “There they are!”Darin Grim, former Golden Knight went over and talked with them and explained what they were seeing and what to look for as the plane flew to altitude.
Inside the plane, SSG Abeln asked Justin how he felt and he said, “I can’t wait” and SSG Abeln said, “We are climbing to 12,500 feet and we’re going to be going 120 mph, I think that is a little faster than you can go on a dirt bike.”SFC Miller asked Heath how he was feeling and he said,” I’m really excited, I’ve got my man Kurt here and I want to do some free style.”
The skies were a brilliant blue with huge white puffy clouds and the silhouette of the plane had disappeared from view. SSG Sean Sweeney who was pulling ground called up the wind readings to the pilots and gave them a “hot target” call, which let them know it was okay to proceed with the jump operation. Everyone was gazing up in to the sky and SFC Matt Davidson came swooping in to the landing area as everyone cheered.
A moment later you could hear shouts and hollers from high above Justin was waving to all below and SSG Abeln brought Justin in for a great stand up landing. Justin began to high five those around him and said, “That was so fun, it’s ridiculous, it’s so sic, let’s do it again!”
Following Heath’s landing they greeted each other bumping knuckles and Heath said, “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done, that was rad!”