SSG Noah Watts jumps the Texas State Flag into Reliant Stadium. Photo by SSG Aaron Figel
The cheers from the crowd at Reliant Stadium could be heard from two thousand feet under canopy, as the members of the Gold Demonstration Team could tell you. The Team jumped the game ball into the Houston Texans v the Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday. As each jumper entered the retractable roof stadium, the cheers got louder, and the song being sung–”Proud to Be an American”– was an apt description for the way everyone was feeling. Several people told the Team how the patriotic jump brought them to tears, and thanked them for their service.
Team leader SFC JD Berentis spots the aircraft over Reliant Stadium. Photo by SSG Reese Pendleton
All veterans, past and present, were recognized, and even the cheerleaders showed their support by wearing cheerleading outfits based around the different branches of military service. The Team was introduced on the big screen after the 3rd quarter, along with several deserving members of the military, who were also recognized. It was a great jump for a great crowd, and the Team was proud to be a part of it.
SGT Chris Clark and SGT Jen Schaben fly their canopies over the icon. Photo by SSG Aaron Figel
Several months ago the Golden Knights were honored to have NASCAR Driver/Owner Tony Stewart and his father Nelson visit us in Cincinnati. They did a little more than just visit. They wanted to know what it was like to go 120 mph with out the use of engines. The best way to do that is Tandem jump with the Tandem Team. It was a great day to have Tony and his father jump with the Team, one we were sure we wouldn’t top. That is until Tuesday.
Tony and his father Neslon paid another visit to the GoldenKnights. This time they came to our home drop zone at the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport, and brought Tony’s sister Natalie and several members of the Army 39 car’s crew team. The weather was amazing, clear blue skies, light winds and warm temperatures. The day started with SFC Elliott giving the tandem brief. While the class was going on Nelson, who already received the class, geared up and took to the blue skies. 15 minutes and 13,500 feet later Nelson was once again standing at the edge of the door.
Ready, set, go! Another great Airborne experience and perfect jump with the Golden Knights. Next up was Tony and sister Natalie, who was making her first jump. As Tony was hanging half way out of the twin otter 2 1/2 miles above the earth something was slightly different. Tony had already been here before and knew exactly what to expect. He gave a smile to SFC Eric Heinsheimer who was the photographer for the jump, he was ready. Just a split second later SSG Joe Abeln and Tony Stewart were heading toward the earth at 120 mph. Like a pro Tony gave a perfect arch for the exit and had a great time during his second skydive. After he landed Tony watched the rest of his teammate’s come in for landing. Loud screams of excitement could be heard from the skies above as the team members descended under the black and gold parachutes. A great Army Strong experience was had by all, and another great day with Tony and his Family.
SSG Brandon Valle flies the Army Star canopy with the American flag (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)
Days like today make it easy to endure all the hot, humid, miserable summer days. Bright blue skies, gentle breeze, and 70 degrees…Black Team couldn’t ask for better training weather. We shared the aircraft with the tryouts all day and completed five jumps. (more…)