The Black Demonstration Team received a warm welcome upon landing at the Willow Run Airport for the Thunder Over Michigan Air Show last week. We stepped off our C-31 aircraft and the impressions began with plane -side radio, television, and newspaper interviews. We kicked off the weekend with a mass formation performance (each jumper rapidly exiting both the left and right door to fly together using their arms, legs, and shoulders) above a reported 300,000 air-show spectators both days. We had the honor of presenting the Golden Knight’s baton, which was flown in freefall and then presented to CEO of Detroit Wayne Airport Mr. Thomas Naughton. After our performance we spent quality time with our local Army recruiters from the Great Lakes Recruiting Battalion as well as the American public. Sunday mirrored our performance from the previous day and the team once again had the honor of spending more time with the local Army recruiters and American public. We spent close to two hours signing autographs and posing for the ever-popular “Selfie” with our Golden Knight fans!
On Monday, the team packed up for our departure from Willow Run Airport into Atlantic City, NJ where we were scheduled for three mass formation performances with Dave Schutlz Air Shows for the Thunder over the Boardwalk Air Show. Prior to kicking off the air show Tuesday and Wednesday the team attended the event sponsored social Salute to Veterans held at the Borgata Resort. We were all introduced on stage by the one and only Mr. Tony Orlando (lead singer of Tony Orlando and Dawn) prior to his performance that evening.
We had the best view in the house from our C-31 jump aircraft on Wednesday above the Atlantic City skyline where we looked down and saw the beach filled with thousands of Military supporters and air show enthusiasts. Unfortunately the low ceiling for our first performance on Wednesday sent the team back to the airfield to wait for the clouds to lift. The skies above Atlantic City opened up for us that afternoon as our team leader SFC Kevin Presgraves gave a thumbs up signal of stand-by! We exited directly above the city and came together for another mass formation with our signature bomb burst break off creating one big Golden Knight firework in the sky with our red smoke trails. We could hear the roar of the crowd on the beach as our black and gold canopies hovered above several thousand spectators as SGT Travis Downing worked to get the crowd even more excited as he told them “ladies and gentlemen these jumpers can hear you very well at 1,000 feet”!
Each jumper safely made their way into the blocked off landing area and we were then face-to-face with several thousand supporters waiting for a wave from their favorite Golden Knight. The entire team was introduced to the crowd and then we all heard the famous last words of our narrator “May all of your days be prosperous and your knights golden”. The shift from thousands of people on the beach to the boardwalk became evident as the entire team stood in front of the Army recruiting tent to begin signing autographs for the anxious New Jersey crowd. It was an honor to work with Dave Schutlz Air Shows this past season as well as the USAF Thunderbirds. Black team continues their show season in Santa Maria, California and Cleveland, Ohio this next week.