It’s Not Good Training Unless it’s Zero Degrees!


Black Team flies an eight-way formation over the Golden Knight's training drop zone in Laurinburg, NC Friday morning at 0630 hrs (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

There’s an old adage in the Army: “If it ain’t rainin’, we ain’t trainin’!” Most take this to mean that the more painful the weather, the better the training…but Black Team would have gladly taken rain this morning. Instead, they awoke to temperatures in the high 20s and began training at 0400 hrs (4am for you non-military folks) in…ahem…brisk NC fall morning weather.

The stars shone bright and the moon was a silver sliver as the jumpers dirt-dove the first formation. Under the cover of darkness, it was hard to see the thick layer of hard frost on the ground, but it was there to be sure, in the headlights of the drop zone van.

Black Team flies over Laurinburg, NC Friday morning at 0630 hours (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

As the C-31 took off at 0515, anyone who wasn’t awake quickly became so, as the cold air blasted in through the rear doors of the aircraft. The climb to altitude was quick. The jumpers leaped into the zero degree, 160mph wind at 12,500 feet and completed the first of four formation jumps.

The second jump was expertly timed to as to have the winter sunrise as the backdrop of the formation.

Everyone was chilled to the bone, but in good spirits despite the absurdly early morning and nearly unbearably cold high altitude temperatures. Black Team Leader SFC Will Fleming summed it up lightheartedly during the final debrief. “I know it’s cold,” he said, “and yeah, this was my idea. But it was great training, and you all can call me all the names you want over Christmas break…but I’ll still see you in January for training!” Everyone had a good laugh and then headed to breakfast as a team to get some pancakes and warm up.

SSG Trevor Oppenborn (right) and SSG Howie Sanborn fly a side-by-side canopy formation over Laurinburg, NC Friday morning (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

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