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No Jump, But Lots of Interaction at Lakewood High School

Team Leader SFC Will Fleming watches the streamers to judge the winds (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

The students at Lakewood High School in Cleveland were disappointed today when Black Team  could not jump into their football stadium because of extremely high winds, but the Team made it up to them by driving over to the school and visiting the students. Five members of the Team took a few hours out of their day to let the students know that despite the weather, the Team was excited to spend some time with them and tell them about the Army. The jumpers were very well-received and the day was a complete success.

Lakewood High School students (from left) Jenn Walls, Taylor Kaine, Chad Keenan, Amanda Torrence, Alex Nicole, and Marianna Polichuk (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

SFC Rob Mooney tells students about what the Army has to offer (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

SGT Tylor Wheeler tells the students about being a helicopter crew chief (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

Although the jump did not go off today, the jumps over the weekend at the air show did go well as planned, here are a few photos of the jumps this weekend. Thanks to SSG Jon Ewald of Tandem Team for taking the pictures.

Black Team flies an eight-way formation over Cleveland International Air Show (photo by SSG Jon Ewald)

SFC Will Fleming tracks away from a diamond formation at break-off time, gaining separation before it's time to opent he parachute (photo by SSG Jon Ewald)

Labor Day Weekend is a Wrap

SFC Will Fleming greets fans at the Army recruiting booth (SGT Rachel Medley)

The weather came through for Black Team, despite a dreary start in Cleveland, Ohio this weekend. All the jumps got scratched Saturday, but the Team made up for lost time Sunday and Monday by getting all four jumps off. The crowd loved it, as always, and the jumpers spent an hour both days at the Army recruiting booth hanging out with the crowd and signing autographs.

Today was a special day for one of the jumpers. MSG Charles Cooley, who has been on the team for more than five years, did his first intentional cutaway maneuver on show site. Each team member practices the cutaway maneuver during our winter training period in Homestead, Florida. For whatever reason, circumstances had prevented MSG Cooley from performing the maneuver on show site…whether it was winds, clouds, or he was needed for other duties, such as cameraman or ground control. Today he got his day though, and performed with expert precision, placing the cutaway parachute just a short distance from the target. MSG Cooley is winding up his time with the Golden Knights. In October, he will head to Japan to take over as a First Sergeant for troops stationed there. MSG Cooley’s trip to Cleveland with Black Team was his last trip before he leaves the team. Good job Chuck!!

SFC Will Fleming explains the picture of a formation on the team brochures (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

SGT Brandie Phillips talks to PFC Mariah Bican and PV2 Brittney Parish, both of Cleveland (SGT Rachel Medley)

Assistant Team Leader SSG Brandon Valle gives a signed brochure to a young fan (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

SSG Jon Ewald gives a high five to a future Soldier (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

The Age-Old Question: “What Happens if You Guys Can’t Jump?”

In the more than 50 years the Golden Knights have been demonstrating their parachuting prowess for the American public, there is one question that never gets old: “What do you guys do if you can’t jump?”

SGT Brandie Phillips listens as a girl tells her she's three years old. The kids were ecstatic to meet the team. (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

Both the Black and Gold demonstration teams tackled that question with gusto today and their actions spoke louder than any words could have. In a very rare coincidence, both teams (who are in two completely separate geographic locations) had to cancel airborne operations for the entire day due to bad weather.

Black Team, in Cleveland, Ohio, canceled because of extremely high winds (gusts of 45mph), rain, and low clouds. Gold Team, in Martinsburg, West Virginia, had to cancel due to high winds (25mph).

Members of Black Team talk to some potential recruits at the recruiting booth in Cleveland (photo by SGT Rachel Medley)

Many people may wonder why high winds prevent safe jump operations. The parachutes used by the Golden Knights are flexible wing gliders. The air flows into the openings in the front of the parachute (inflating the wing), as well as over the top and under the bottom of the parachute. If a high gust of wind was to pass over the top skin of the canopy, the parachute could collapse. At a high altitude, a collapsed parachute would easily re-inflate within a few hundred feet with no damage to the jumper…but if the jumper is only¬† 50 feet off the ground on final approach, a collapsed parachute could mean falling several stories to the pavement below.

The Golden Knights have a wind limit of 20 miles per hour on the ground. If the landing area is tight and there are a lot of obstacles, the Team Leader may make a safety call and stop the jump at an even lower wind limit. Each Team Leader knows the individual abilities and strengths of each team member, and uses his knowledge and expertise to make sure his Team is never placed in harm’s way. Both SFC Will Fleming and SFC JD Berentis took their respective Teams out of harm’s way today and opted to do a little extra work on the ground to make sure the crowd got their money’s worth.

Black Team split up into three groups as soon as the weather call was made. One group, headed up by TL SFC Will Fleming, went to a luncheon with the Recruiting Battalion Commander and some local school administrators. Another group went to the Army Recruiting tent and hung out with the crowd there, talking to potential young recruits and signing autographs. The third group headed to the air show announcer’s booth, where they had some mic time with air show announcer and honorary Golden Knight Mr. Rob Reider. They talked a little bit about why the team couldn’t jump and got the crowd pumped up for tomorrow’s performance.

Gold Team at least got the plane off the ground and threw wind drift indicators, but it was obvious from the streamer data and ground wind readings of 25 miles per hour that cancellation was inevitable. The jumpers landed with the plane and made a bee-line for the recruiting booth, where even the climbing wall had to be taken down due to wind safety rules. The crowd loved having the team there, even though they didn’t jump.

SGT Chris Clark chats up some fans in West Virginia (photo by SSG Steven Robertson)

The forecast in both locations looks promising for tomorrow, so hopefully the crowds will get what they came to the show for: a stellar Army Strong performance by the Army Golden Knights!

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