In 1846 during the Mexican-American War, a detachment of Marines from the second-class Sloop-of-War Cyane landed to raise the American flag above the Plaza in what’s now called Old Town. As a result of that war, the U.S. acquired San Diego and the rest of California. At that time, today’s Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was part of an enormous rancho. Cattle grazed on the mesa now covered by runways. During the 1940s, both the Navy and the Marine Corps occupied Miramar. East Miramar (Camp Elliott) was used to train Marine artillery and armored personnel, while Navy and Marine Corps pilots trained on the western side. The bases were combined and designated Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in 1945. After several years of realignment Miramar came close to being sold back to the City of San Diego but after an absence of 50 years, MCAS Miramar is once again the home of the Marine Corps’ West Coast air power.
The MCAS Miramar Air Show is the largest military air show in the country hosting over 30 performers and bringing in an estimated 500,000 spectators. The Gold Demonstration Team had the honor of opening the three day event by flying in the American Flag every morning and also flying with the team was the Navy Parachute Team “Leap Frogs”. The two teams joined forces to show the people of San Diego what real precision skydiving and target accuracy is. The team also was scheduled to perform a twilight jump on Saturday evening and was invited by the Blue Angels to jump out of there C-130 “Fat Albert”. This was the first time for some of the team to ride in Fat Albert and experience the extreme take off and Zero Gravity roll over which brought smiles to everyone on board and was a great start to the night performance.
The team was welcomed and appreciated for their performances by the citizens of San Diego and the commended by the MCAS Miramar Commander Colonel J.P Farnam by receiving a copy of the original art work from the air show poster. Over all this air show was great success and an awesome place for the team to be for their last trip to the west coast.
The second annual Tallahassee Regional Airport Fun Fest is a small but growing event put on to bring the citizens of Florida’s state capitol together for a day of fun in the sun. The first Fun Fest held at the airport was originally held as a local barbeque contest with a crowd of only a couple thousand and a handful of static aircraft displays. This year the director wanted to expand on the idea and bring in a couple of flying acts to the event and the Gold Demonstration Team was fortunate enough to be invited.
The team was accompanied by Larry King aerobatics and together both put on a show that drew more than 10,000 people to the small airport. The Gold Team was also joined with two members of the 82nd Free Fall Team, SSG Matt Acord and SSG Charles Peteet were asked to fly with the Knights in an effort to open doors between parachuting demonstration teams. Between each performance the team went to the local Army recruiting booth to receive help packing parachutes and sign autographs. The people of Tallahassee were more than happy to open their doors to the Golden Knights and even extended an invitation to join them in future events.
McConnell Air Force Base hosted the Wings Over McConnell Open House this last weekend featuring aircraft and equipment from all branches of the military to include the Air Force Thunderbirds and of course the Gold Demonstration Team. The 22nd Air Refueling Wing on McConnell is the largest refueling operation in the world housing more KC 135 Stratotankers than any other location so it was a great honor to be invited to a location with such a high pace mission. Coming from sub-freezing temperatures the week before the much warmer Kansas climate was a welcome change to the team. Every day during the air show the skies were blue allowing the team to perform without restriction also giving everyone watching the best view possible. On Friday the team jumped in to a military family concert located in the center of the airshow which gave the audience an awesome preview of the show to come over the next couple days. On Saturday and Sunday the shows were identical starting off with a mass formation to open the air show with all the jumpers landing in a show line spread right next to the crowd then giving high fives and handshakes all the way back to show center. The morning show also featured a tandem jump for a couple lucky people with one of them being Amanda Chastain the Air Force Spouse of the Year. Amanda was nominated for Spouse of the Year due to her volunteer work within the military and civilian communities. The afternoon was a full show where the team demonstrated the highly practiced maneuvers that only the Golden Knights perform.
Even though the team was sharing the spotlight with the Thunderbirds there was no shortage of Airmen and Press wanting to take a ride on the Golden Knights distinctively painted C-31. Even though these Airmen were no strangers to being around aircraft none of them have been on one with the doors open. The team enjoys having guest onboard not only to have someone new to talk to during the climb to altitude but also to show them just how fun skydiving can be. The riders also get the best view on the plane as they are sat right next to the open doors in the rear of the plane. Most people try to keep calm during the ride but the look on their faces change to awe and wonder as they see the jumpers move freely about the plane showing no fear as they lean outside to check the target area.