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Thunder in the Valley

IMGsmoke_9030Over the past weekend Gold Team participated in the Thunder in the Valley Air Show in Waterloo, IA conducting 3 shows. On Friday, the team did a mass formation with SSG Roman Grijalva, fresh out of Senior Leaders Course, jumping into the show first and then narrating for Children’s Appreciation Day. There were hundreds of students, which came from numerous schools in the area on field trips to attend the Thunder in the Valley Air Show. The Air Show had a social, where the members of the Gold Demonstration Team had the opportunity to get together and meet the sponsors and other performers.

Although Saturday started off with rain and low clouds, the skies quickly opened up to allow the team to do a full show. SGT Blake Gaynor was the first jumper in, and narrated the rest of the team as they came in for dead center landings. The team presented a baton to Reiley Gilbert, a 17 year old, who recently enlisted into the Army and is eagerly waiting to attend Basic Training. Sunday the team conducted another successful full show with SSG Jon Clevenger narrating. The team presented another baton to the Bob Molinaro family, which is a major sponsor of the show.

SSG Mike Koch, Photos by SFC Adrian Hill

Black Demonstration Michigan to Atlantic City

_Michigan collage_9745The 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.

Ten-Way photo by SSG Reese Pendleton

Ten-Way photo by SSG Reese Pendleton

 

SSG James Hackett

SSG James Hackett

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Golden Knights Return to Chicago Air & Water Show

Back to the Windy City

Back to the Windy City

 

This past weekend the Gold Demonstration Team participated in the Chicago Air and Water show. The practice jump went off without a hitch on Friday with SSG Jon Clevenger doing a joint three stack with All Veterans Group and the Leap Frogs with a drop flag and then narrating the rest of the team and the Leap Frogs conducting a joint mass formation.

Saturday morning SPC Daniel Osorio did another three stack with the Leap Frogs and the All Veterans Group and narrated both the Leap Frogs and the Gold Team doing two separate stack outs with Canopy Relative Work from 2500 feet. SSG Mike Koch narrated the team doing a stack out and canopy relative work passes from 3200 feet. Graham Hoeksta, a six and a half year old cancer survivor, was presented with a baton. That evening the team was able to take part in a social for all the air show personnel at Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta with a tour through the city of Chicago on a double decker bus.

Unfortunately, due to weather, the team was not able to conduct any shows on Sunday, but was able to meet many of the other performers along with their family and friends on the airfield in Gary, Indiana. Giving them tours of the plane and answering many questions.

SFC Brian Karst, Photos by, SGT Martin,SFC Hill & Donna Dixon

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