McConnell Air Force Base hosted the Wings Over McConnell Open House this last weekend featuring aircraft and equipment from all branches of the military to include the Air Force Thunderbirds and of course the Gold Demonstration Team. The 22nd Air Refueling Wing on McConnell is the largest refueling operation in the world housing more KC 135 Stratotankers than any other location so it was a great honor to be invited to a location with such a high pace mission. Coming from sub-freezing temperatures the week before the much warmer Kansas climate was a welcome change to the team. Every day during the air show the skies were blue allowing the team to perform without restriction also giving everyone watching the best view possible. On Friday the team jumped in to a military family concert located in the center of the airshow which gave the audience an awesome preview of the show to come over the next couple days. On Saturday and Sunday the shows were identical starting off with a mass formation to open the air show with all the jumpers landing in a show line spread right next to the crowd then giving high fives and handshakes all the way back to show center. The morning show also featured a tandem jump for a couple lucky people with one of them being Amanda Chastain the Air Force Spouse of the Year. Amanda was nominated for Spouse of the Year due to her volunteer work within the military and civilian communities. The afternoon was a full show where the team demonstrated the highly practiced maneuvers that only the Golden Knights perform.
Even though the team was sharing the spotlight with the Thunderbirds there was no shortage of Airmen and Press wanting to take a ride on the Golden Knights distinctively painted C-31. Even though these Airmen were no strangers to being around aircraft none of them have been on one with the doors open. The team enjoys having guest onboard not only to have someone new to talk to during the climb to altitude but also to show them just how fun skydiving can be. The riders also get the best view on the plane as they are sat right next to the open doors in the rear of the plane. Most people try to keep calm during the ride but the look on their faces change to awe and wonder as they see the jumpers move freely about the plane showing no fear as they lean outside to check the target area.