Gold Team Ends a Thirteen Year Dry Spell

After 13 years without holding an air show, the 122nd Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base decided to bring it back and to go big in the process by inviting the Golden Knights Gold Demonstration Team.  An estimated 50,000 people were said to be in attendance for the new and improved air show with acts like Otto the Helicopter, Indy Boys – Jet Powered School Bus, Mohr Barnstorming, Oliver’s SkyDancer and the F-22 Raptor Demo Team just to name a few.  With 16 performers and 20 static displays this air show had something for everyone with no expense spared to accommodate an overwhelming crowd on a small base.  The Gold Team was brought in to be one of the main headliners for the show and they did just that.  On Friday the team was scheduled to perform just a few hours after landing so immediately after the in brief the clock was ticking.  Since the demonstration teams are always in the public view it is critical to not only be ready to in a timely manner but to look good while doing it and since the team was the main event the heat was on.  The team took off with eight press riders all wanting to talk to the jumpers during the flight but half way up the Ground Coordinator SGT George Perez called up to the plane with winds over 20 miles an hour.  With this new knowledge the team leader J.D. Berentis made the call to switch to smaller parachutes so the team could still put on a performance.  The planned jump still went according to plan giving the media on the ground and the ones still on the plane a great show.  Within a couple of hours of jumping the Gold Team made the local radio and news as well as impressing the locals outside the gates.


The rest of the weekend was a success as well but not without some familiar weather challenges.  On Saturday the team had two jumps to perform with the first one being a mass formation.  The plane was once again filled with press riders wanting to get a glimpse of the jumpers leaping from 12,500 feet and without fail the team did just that.  Shortly after the jump the clouds rolled in and spoiled the second jump for the day and once the rain started the show director made the decision to end the show early so the patrons could get home and not miss anything.  On Sunday the team was scheduled for two jumps but the clouds were closed after just a few thousand feet.  The mass formation the team planned on turned in to an equally impressive low CRW show.  Three pairs of CRW landed across the show line allowing everyone to see the Golden Knight skills at work.  The second show in the afternoon was also cut short because the rain was about to start so to not disappoint the people of Fort Wayne a low altitude stack out was put out just minutes before the jump.  As the black and gold canopies soared above the crowd the people cheered with everything they had and watched the Knights hit the target one by one ending the airshow with a bang.




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