Black Team Thunder

 

Black Team Flying High Over Travis AFB

Black Team Flying High Over Travis AFB

 The Black demonstration team led by SFC Kevin Presgraves traveled to Travis Air Force Base, CA for the Thunder Over Solano Air Show this past weekend. The team began making their impressions within the Fairfield community upon landing and paid a visit to a local high school. We had the honor of speaking with the Air Force JROTC class at Fairfield High School along with the local Army recruiters.

 The team was set to make three performances this past weekend and kicked off the air show with our first mass performance show of the air show season on Friday. The team then attended the wonderful air show sponsored social. We had the opportunity to meet all of the air show performers and received a warm welcome from Travis Air Force Base. Unfortunately, we were not able to put on our full show performance on Saturday due to high winds. The team was still able to give the spectators a full team lineup introduction while Team Six made three low altitude passes over show center.

 As Golden Knights, we are not only known for our precision free fall and canopy skills, but for the ability we have to interact with the American public. Since our designation as the official aerial demonstration unit we continue to make lasting impressions in hopes of inspiring young men and women to become Army Strong. The Black demonstration team did just that this weekend and even had the opportunity to pack our parachutes with the assistance of some of our spectators. GroupFB

Black team took their full show performance to the blue skies of Travis AFB in front of a reported 85,000 spectators on Sunday. The Golden Knights opened the show flying in our Nations Colors to a live National Anthem.  On board our aircraft for this performance were reporters from World Air Show News, KTVU Channel 2 as well as PAO’s from Travis AFB. The team performed the baton pass, diamond track and a mass formation followed by a signature Golden Knight team lineup. The team heads back to Fort Bragg, NC this week to prep for their next air show May 9th-11th at Joint Base Mcguire-Dix in Lakehurst, NJ.

By SSG Shelbie Bixler

Photos by  SSG Reese Pendleton

 

SSG Bixler sending spotting information to team through SFC Corey Hood

SSG Bixler sending spotting information to team through SFC Corey Hood

Bixler AmerFLG

PFC Winger High Five

PFC Winger High Five

SFC Presgraves talking with audience

SFC Presgraves talking with audience

 

Black Team Takes To The Blue Skies Of Homestead:

SFC Aaron Figel and SFC Adrian Hill watching Baton Passes

SFC Aaron Figel and SFC Adrian Hill watching Baton Passes

 

 

The Black Demonstration team closes out week three with baton pass maneuvers, canopy relative work (CRW) and mass formations. The entire teams to include the newest demonstrators are proving they are ready to take to the skies around the nation this upcoming air show season. Each demonstrator has been paired up with their tracking partner who is their mentor for each of the maneuvers and training throughout our ACC (annual certification cycle).  Tracking partners are a very tight knit unit and the trust and confidence built between one another will allow our spectators to receive the best and most precise Golden Knight signature performance maneuvers.

The baton pass allows the spectators to see two jumpers simultaneously exit the aircraft and perform the basics of flight control using their hands, arms, legs and shoulders.  The baton pass partners fly together and judge their rate of distance and closure in order to exchange the baton and then begin to spiral at 120 miles per hour.  The two jumpers separate and open their parachutes at the same time.

The newest facet of our sport, called canopy relative work was introduced to our newest teammates this week. We are progressing into this maneuver by practicing with our tracking partners how to safely fly our parachute right into their hands and stack both parachutes on top of one another. Once the two canopies are stacked together the flight characteristics do not change and this allows one of the jumpers to pilot the two canopies. Both jumpers can carry on a conversation and communicate freely with one another during this maneuver.  While the top jumper pilots the canopy, the bottom jumper is responsible for relaying altitudes and calling the break off to separate the two canopies and land.  

In addition to perfecting our maneuvers this past week, our full show performances would not be successful without the voice behind each of the maneuvers. We are honored to have the best air show announcer with us here in Homestead, FL to work with each of the newest demonstrators on their narration for the upcoming air show circuit. Mr. Rob Ryder works with each demonstrator after each of their jumps in order to enhance the Golden Knight narration for our spectators and teammates. 

Black team looks forward to week four of training as we take to the night skies of Homestead, FL . The team will be landing into a baseball diamond here on Homestead Air Reserve Base at night.

Golden Knights Annual Certification Cycle SSG Echeverry SPC Luke Olk SGT Travis Downing

PFC Jason Wenger LTC Melendez HackettBatton Pass Annual Certification Cycle batpassGolden Knights Annual Certification CycleRobRyderolkseverinhacket

Team Six

The first two weeks of winter training has been very successful for Team Six. Thanks to everyones effort we deployed all available aircraft with no issues and were able to start supporting jump operations and a aircraft qualification the next day. That says a lot about the caliber of our maintainers of Kay and Associates, our Crew Chiefs, and Operations NCO who made it such a smooth transition.

 Now we’re starting to get settled into our flow of supporting daily operations and even flew two demonstrations into Homestead’s annual Rodeo with Black and Gold Teams. As the Annual Certification Cycle progresses we will continue to hone our skills and prepare for a great 2014 show season. Team Six is proud to support the world class U.S. Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights.

 The road leading us to our Annual Certification Cycle was long and full of many moving pieces.  One of our C-31A aircraft went into heavy maintenance checks in December and was delivered back to us by our Maintenance Pilots Mr. Breeden and Mr. Reiner in early January.  The aircraft went right into the paint facility in Arkansas before we deployed to Florida.  We are all looking forward to demonstrating for the American public from the newly overhauled aircraft in 2014.

 We were assigned two new pilots over the summer along with one new crew chief.  CW3 David Burns, and CW4 Joshua Howe arrived at Pope Field to join our team and they haven’t taken a break yet.  Both pilots have a long history of flying UH-60 and CH-47 helicopters in combat and multiple fixed wing aircraft during their career.  SGT Jason Desando has been an excellent addition to our Aviation Detachment and comes to us from a CH-47 unit here at Fort Bragg.  All three of these Soldiers bring various unique experiences to our team and represent a nice cross section of our U.S. Army.  Look for all three during our upcoming show season.

 Our newest airborne teammates that graduated from 2013 Assessment and Selection are making us all proud and seem to be progressing nicely.  We have a Friday night tradition here in Florida of having “Wing Night” at the Value Place sponsored by the aircrews and maintainers.  It’s a great opportunity for all of us to unwind after a long week and tell stories on each other.   

As most of the East coast and deep South experienced snow this week, we were left with a large amount of rain and were nearly washed away.

Blue Skies!

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