The Golden Knights Tandem Team finished up November jumping with Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division. Most tandem passengers that jump with the Golden Knights have never jumped from an airplane. On Tuesday, the 1/73 CAV came out to get a different take on being Airborne.
The Soldiers arrived early on Tuesday, eager to jump at an altitude they never have before. Normally, Airborne Soldiers spend hours before each jump reviewing the exit, the parachute landing fall (PLF), emergencies, and how to safely get 60 or more paratroopers to the ground quickly. With gusty winds and storms forecasted to move in the Tandem Team waisted no time. SSG Jared Zell gave the pre jump brief, this one only taking about 30 minutes. Just as SSG Zell finished up his instruction and everyone was geared up, Team Six came rolling in with the Twin Otter. The excitement was building for the paratroopers. As quickly as our plane arrived the Team was wheels up and on our way to 13,500 feet. On the way to altitude the Soldiers shared their stories of jumping out of a C-130 at 800 feet, the normal height the 82nd ABN DIV jumps from. Just a few minutes later, SPC Andrew Cortina was the first to jump. SSG Joe Abeln accompanied SPC Cortina on his first free fall jump. SSG Matt Acord was there to film the jump and take digital still pictures of his experience. After the parachute opened 5000 feet above the drop zone SSG Abeln explained that he still had a 4 minute parachute ride before he hit 800 feet, the jump altitude SPC Cortina was accustomed too.
The weather did not hold out for long, as gusty winds brought the Team outside of our safety limits. Six Airborne Soldiers had an unforgettable experience with the Tandem Team. The paratroopers who were unable to jump will certainly be back for their chance to free fall 2 1/2 miles above the ground. The Tandem Team is now preparing for the All American Bowl, a High School All Star football game held annually in San Antonio, TX the first week in January. After San Antonio the Team flies directly to Homestead, FL to conduct our winter training.