Members of the Black Demonstration Team Exiting the Team C31 Friendship Fokker
The Black Demonstration Team arrived on Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ this weekend for the second air show of the season. The team was invited to attend the Joint Base social on the first day and received a warm air show welcome from all of the air show sponsors. Amongst some of the guests at the social included base commander Colonel John Wood of the 87th ABW. The team met with several air show sponsors and dignitaries from around Joint Base Mcguire-Dix- Lakehurst. They were all just as excited to see our performances and we were more than ready to get back in the sky!
We were up early Friday morning ready to put on our mass performance for all of the media and DOD ID card holders. However, Mother Nature did not play in our favor and the show was cancelled. Inclement weather does not stop the Golden Knights from providing their spectators/fans with the best part of their show and that is the one on one interaction through high fives, handshakes and autographs. And we did just that at the Army Recruiting display located directly behind show center.
Signs of inclement weather were forecasted for the following day at Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst as we still maintained our focus and determination to have the opportunity to connect the US Army to the American public through our precision free fall maneuvers and canopy skills. The skies slowly opened up for us that morning just in time for our first mass performance. Although landing on target is one of the many signature landings of every Golden Knight, each jumper was able to pick a spot to land along the show line to truly personalize the performance for the air show spectators.
Our last performance of the weekend included both a mass and a full show. This was the team’s first opportunity to perform their first full show of the air show season. Eight press riders accompanied us on our climb to 12,500 feet. The excitement for what they were about to experience on board our C31 was infectious. High fives, smiles and a few fist bumps were exchanged with our press riders prior to each maneuver was so exiting. All four full show maneuvers were highlighted to include the baton pass, cutaway, diamond track and diamond formation. What a way to close out the weekend!
Black Team is home for the week and is looking forward to completing more training in preparation for their first local show at the Fayetteville Veterans Park this Saturday.
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.
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
PFC Winger High Five
SFC Presgraves talking with audience
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.