Gold Team Heads North to Manassas Virginia

The Gold Demonstration Team took a trip up north to perform at the 2012 Manassas Airshow in Virginia.  The skies were blue and the winds were light allowing for a spectacular show over the weekend.  The initial jump by the Gold Team was made on Friday just a few hours after landing at the show site.  The team had just enough time to receive a detailed in brief grab a bite to eat and then take to the skies once again.  Friday was a warm up day for the airshow acts as well as media day where local reporters get to travel behind the scenes and take a closer look at the airshow demonstrators.  Due to the shortened timeline and lower altitude celling on Friday the Gold Team needed to make some on the fly adjustments to the previously planned mass formation.  Instead of the 12,500 feet the team planned for the airshow coordinator only allowed 7,500 for the first jump.  The Team Leader SFC JD Berentis and Assistant Team Leader SFC Dustin Peregrin came up with a new formation that would still allow for maximum visibility for the audience below.  The narrator jump and the mass formation were done successfully and even caught the eye of locals traveling around the area.  It was mentioned by some airshow attendees the next day that they decided to come because they saw the team jump the day before.

The next day during the show the team was greeted with more media personnel wishing to take a ride up with the Gold Team aboard Golden Knight Air.  One of the great advantages to being a member of the Golden Knights is that they have the privilege to see the excitement on the faces of the reporters as they sit just inches from an open door of an aircraft traveling 120 miles per hour two and a half miles above the ground.  The experience is described as a once in a life time thrill ride by most passengers as well as a very humbling event as they know this is our everyday office.

The Gold Demonstration Team also assisted the Manassas, VA Army recruiters led by station commander SFC David Williams during the Manassas Airshow. The Gold Team provided a tour of the C-31 to four future soldiers. In addition to the plane side briefs, the demonstrators laid out their parachutes and repacked them in front of approximately 350 spectators to include Vietnam Veterans, future soldiers and the remainder of our proud military supporters. Demonstrators visited with The Virginia Airborne Search and Rescue Squad as well as CEO and Baton Recipient Kevin Rychlik from American Helicopters Incorporated in order to maintain rapport with sponsors for any future airshows.

Staying Local

The down side of traveling away from Ft. Bragg constantly throughout the demonstration season is that the team does not get to perform for the local community that often.  Fortunately for the Gold Demonstration Team two performances came up inside of a week.  The Baldwin Elementary School was conducting their Outside Activities Day and gave the Knights a chance to give the students a thrill of a life time.  The jump was conducted in the early morning to kick off the day of fun and games for the students and faculty then was followed by the Jumpers being greeted by the students and allowing them to help pack their parachutes.  The demonstration was over early but then it was back to work to prepare for the next Jump in a couple of days.

The following local show was for the opening of the Raeford Mud Run held at the Wide Open MX Park.  It was another early day for the Gold Team as they prepare for the jump.  As the sun rose over the horizon the Golden Knights distinctively painted Twin Otter took off from Pope AAF.  The conditions were just right, clear skies and light winds just as forecasted.  The timeline was narrow for the team so as to not interfere with the runners but still went off without a hitch.  After the demonstration the jumpers were welcomed into the start area by the race coordinator and the team presented her with a Golden Knight Litho.  Some of the runners also had a chance to pose with the team before they started their muddy 10K race.  All together these local performances are sometimes the much needed break from the constant cross country traveling but most of all it is a way for the Golden Knights to say thank you to a very supportive community.

Texas Gives a Big Country Welcome to Gold Team

The Gold Team was given a big Texas welcome at the Dyess Big Country Air Fest in Abilene Texas.  The team was also accompanied by SSG Jared Zell and SSG Jon Ewald from the Tandem Team, as well as SFC Laura Dickmeyer from the Competition Team.  All together the team was able to put on a great show for citizens of Abilene.  The team completed three jumps while at Dyess AFB, the first was on Friday as a practice which was a mass exit and then two jumps the following day for the show.  This was the first time SSG Brian Karst and SSG Kevin Presgraves had a chance to narrate a show for the team and did so with flying colors during the performances on Saturday.

Along with putting on a demonstration the Gold Team’s Recruiting Liaison SSG Shelby Bixler and SFC Laura Dickmeyer visited Cooper High School just before the Air Show.  SFC Dickmeyer is an alumnus of Cooper High School and Physics teacher Jim Reeves had a direct impact on SFC Dickmeyer’s skydiving carrier back in 2003 and was elated to have her back in his classroom.  65 High School Juniors listened as SFC Dickmeyer explained education and carrier incentives as well as what is takes to become a member of the Army’s Elite Parachute Team.  The principal of Cooper High School accepted a signed lithograph from The Golden Knights to proudly display in their school.

The Gold Team also met some unique individuals during their time in Abilene.  Linda Preston is the mother of former Golden Knight Kirk Preston who served on the team until 1984 was greeted by the team and given VIP access during the Air Fest to show thanks for all of her support over the years.  Another Golden Knight alumnus was at the show but as a fellow performer.  Air Force A-10 Warthog Pilot MAJ John Collier served on the Gold Demonstration Team from 1996-1998 and was given a chance to ride in the Fokker with the Gold Team once again.  After the performance some of the Gold Team accompanied MAJ Collier to his aircraft to get a closer look inside of one of the Ari Force’s most famous planes.

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