Golden Knight Demonstrators united at our Headquarters in Ft. Bragg, NC to prepare for the first trip of the 2012 show season. After final inventories were completed, the bus was loaded and we headed to Pope field. Every jumpsuit, rig, brochure and piece of support equipment was loaded into our C-31 Troopship and strapped down. The assistant team leader called the advance representative to let him know we would be there in two hours. The twin-turbo prop jump aircraft roared to life and we were on the move. As we went wheels up, Black Team was en route to the first show of the 2012 demonstration season, New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest, Florida.
Black Team arrived to an warm wealth of open arms and gratitude. After a quick in-brief and site survey of the landing site, the Team was airborne, once again. A mere 3 hour turn-around brought the jumpers back to the Florida skies with smoke and pyrotechnics at the ready. Light winds and clear skies provided optimal conditions as we stepped out at 12,500 feet for a scenic, twilight, free fall demonstration.
Joined by members of Gold Team and Free Fall Formation Team, 12 jumpers filled the sky. Wearing dual pyrotechnics, SSG Tom Melton, from Gold Team, became the star of the show. Highlighted in “The Daytona Beach News Journal,” SSG Melton stole the front page of Saturday’s paper.
The weekend provided successful jumping conditions for all four of the scheduled jumps. Saturday and Sunday afternoon, the Team was proud to present batons, which were flown in free fall, to distinguished Vets. On Saturday, one was presented to World War II veteran, Major William Schildecker, MD. Sunday’s went to Lt. Col. Hiram Mann, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, that served with the 332nd Fighter Group. During his 30 years of service in the Air Force, he flew with The “Red Tails,” escorting and protecting heavy-bomber aircraft on the way to their targets.
Shaking the hands of these war heroes and pioneers is truly an honor. We always look for the opportunity to thank them for paving the way and fighting for the freedom we so enjoy today. Without their selfless sacrifice to set the example for all Soldiers to follow, our Country would not be what it is today.
Black Team was proud to begin the show season at New Smyrna Beach’s Balloon & Sky Fest! We look forward to returning once again and sharing the story of the American Soldier with such a proud community of military supporters.