The Oregon International Air Show held in Hillsboro was the last stop on a three week trip the Gold Team took to the northwest. This location offered the team an opportunity to jump into three different locations. First was a jump in to the Yamhill County Fair and Rodeo where the Team jumped in to celebrate the opening of the Fair. The jump was a great success and the team was welcomed with open arms and loud cheers as each of the jumpers landed. Just after the jump the team cleared the arena to make way for the bull riding competition. Only a few thousand were in attendance for the performance but all received a wonderful show and also had a chance to meet the Knights afterwards at the Army Recruiting Booth. The second location was at the home of Bob Terry who is the Washington County Commissioner and a major supporter of the Air Show. The jump was to open the social for the performers and volunteers of the Air Show. There was a special guest in attendance at the social, Carl Deiz one of the original Tuskegee gave the team a few moments to show their appreciation for his service and take a few photos. The show the team put on for the small crowd was just a preview of what was to come over the weekend.
On Friday the Gold Team put on two performances, an evening and a night jump. The two jumps were for VIPs and special invites and all of whom received a front row seat to a world class performance. Before and after the jumps the other acts performed to include the Thunderbirds, John Klatt’s stunt plane, and ending the night with 20 minute firework display. The show was not just scene by the VIPs it was also viewed by hundreds of onlookers outside the airport gates. Traffic was redirected away from the airport during the Air Show to prevent any serious accidents due to people stopping to see the acts. On Saturday and Sunday the team got to really show off by putting on two full shows for over 150,000 said to be in attendance. The weather was perfect for the show and to also fulfill a promise for a tandem ride the Gold Team gave to SFC Leroy Petry back in Washington. Medal of Honor recipient SFC Leroy Petry was given a chance to jump with the Knights while in Washington and also back at Laurinburg, NC where the Golden Knights train but bad weather put a hold on the
plans. Luckily the clouds stayed away and SFC Noah Watts made the jump with SFC Petry and it all went off without a
hitch. SFC Petry was very grateful for the opportunity and said it was one of the best things he had ever done. All together the three week trip was a great success.
Twin Falls is a small town in the southern region of Idaho that is home to breathtaking water falls, Base Jumping and the return of the Magic Valley Air Show. It has been several years since the city has had an Air show so to start it off right Twin Falls brought back the Golden Knights. Close to 50,000 people were said to be in attendance with many coming from almost 100 miles away to see the many great acts of the show to include the Blue Angles, MXS-R aerobatic aircraft, the WWII B-25 bomber, “Maid in the Shade” and of course the Golden Knights Gold Demonstration Team. This air show was the first in a while that the team had great weather over the whole weekend which allowed them to finally relax and not have to change the show due to low clouds or high winds.
The Gold Team started off the show Friday night with a twilight performance featuring a combination of Pyro and Smoke which could be seen over the flat lands for miles around. The first jumper out was SSG Brian Karst who was the Narrator and was wearing both smoke and pyro and then the rest of the team jumped and lit up the sky showing the great people of Twin Falls what precision skydiving looks like. The next two days the team performed four shows doing everything from the full show maneuvers to exciting Canopy Relative Work. The turnaround between jumps was very short so the team was not able to walk through the crowd right away but the patient audience waited until the end of the second jump to gather by the Army Recruiting booth and receive signatures and get pictures with the team.
It was not all work while at Twin Falls some of the Gold Team got a chance to take part in the newly opened zip line along the Snake River Valley. The Recruiters arranged an afternoon event for some Future Soldiers while SSG Brian Karst, SSG Shelby Bixler, and SGT Trey Martin conducted a Radio interview just outside their office. Just following the Interview SSG Dodge the Station Commander told the team that “Zip The Snake” Zip Line would like to give them a complementary ride. Overall Twin Falls was one of the most welcoming and hospitable communities the team has had the pleasure of visiting and was told that they would be sought out to come back again next year.
Gray skies and low clouds are the most common views in the North West State of Washington and that did not change for the Gold Demonstration Team during the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Expo. Despite the low celling the Gold Team still managed to complete two of the three scheduled jumps over the two day event. Over 200,000 spectators got to witness the team perform a modified low show each day bringing smiles to everyone watching.
The first jump was canceled due to almost no visibility above just a few hundred feet but the next jump on Saturday gave the Gold Team a chance to show off their skills. The time line called for 30 minutes of show time with only 2500 feet of altitude so The Gold Team Leader SFC J.D. Berentis split the show up into three different passes of Swooping, Target Accuracy and CRW. The crowd was amazed as the smaller parachutes flown by 1SG Bryan Schnell, SSG Reese Pendleton and SGT Jeshua Stahler swept across the ground right in front them. Then the larger parachutes slowly floated down showing the control and accuracy the Jumpers have. The last pass brought the excitement of Canopy Relative Work as a Bi-Plane traveled over the people while carrying the Washington State flag.
Sunday the Team was honored to be joined by Medal Of Honor Recipient SFC Leroy Petry who saved several of his fellow Soldiers in Afghanistan when his unit came under attack during a daytime mission. SFC Petry attempted to throw back a grenade that landed near his men when it detonated severing his right hand but saving everyone around. SFC Petry continued to stay in the fight after being wounded and his actions led to several soldiers making it out safely. SFC Joe Jones was scheduled to give SFC Petry a Tandem ride during the show but due to the low clouds the ride was cancelled but he was still thrilled to have gotten to ride up with the Gold Team during the performance.
The low clouds also caused to change in plans for the Team as well. As the jump time approached rain started to fall over the target area forcing the Team to make a mass exit without a narrator pass and combining all of the previous maneuvers from yesterday into a one pass show. The Gold Team came through as always showing the people of Washington why the Golden Knight are the best at what they do. Also during the jump SFC J.D. Berentis and SSG Tom Pryjda put together a Bi-Plane and flew SFC Petry’s Medal of Honor Flag and a Baton which would later be presented to him.
The Team had extra time available while still in Washington so the Recruiting Battalion arranged for most of the Future Soldiers to get together and meet with the Knights at a local recruiting office. Each member told their Army story and what led them to becoming a Golden Knight as well as the other opportunities that have become available to them.