As the year begins to wind down, Tandem Team is still going strong. Tuesday brought 4th BDE Cadet Command back to our training site in Laurinburg, NC. On the list of jumpers was Shelly Deberry from Charleston, WV. Shelly is a counselor in the West Virginia Department of Education. She runs a special program to help prevent students from dropping out of high school. Also jumping today Ruben Campillo from Charlotte, NC, LTC Richard Brown from Raleigh, NC and Major Michael Arnette, a surgeon on Ft. Bragg.
The day started with gloomy weather. low cloud ceilings and strong winds. While SSG Jared Zell was giving an instructor brief to the class, the rest of Tandem Team took to the skies to see what the weather was really doing. Team 6 brought the DeHavilland Twin Otter and the team to 8000 feet above the drop zone, just enough altitude to safely conduct a Tandem Parachute jump. Once back on the ground, Tandem Team geared everyone up and once again were circling 8000 feet overhead. Shelly led the group being the first jumper out of the airplane. Teamed up with SSG Joe Abeln and videographer SSG Zell Shelly moved to the edge of the door and looked out at the country side almost two miles below. She wasn’t there for long. The tandem pair quickly exited the aircraft and accelerated earthwards at 120 mph. Rueben Campillo and SSG Joe Jones followed closely behind. As the two tandem pairs slowly descended back to the drop zone, everyone could hear the cheers of excitement from Shelly and Ruben.
Shortly after the team landed they were right back in the air. The winds pushed the clouds out of the way and clear blue skies were seen from horizon to horizon. Unfortunately the winds were also strong on the ground and quickly gusting to our safety limitations. This time the team exited at 13,500 feet, 2 1/2 miles above the ground. The clear skies made for great video and photos from our team photographers SFC Eric Heinsheimer and SSG Zell. The jumps were executed flawlessly. Regrettably the winds were gusting above our wind limitations and the team had to take a weather break. The weather did not cooperate the rest of the day.
Despite the weather, the day was a great success. COI’s from the mid atlantic region learned a great deal about the US Army and the Golden Knights. Everyone has a great story to take back to their schools and communities. The Tandem Team would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.