Thunder Over Santa Maria

Fans waiting to get GK Autographs

Fans waiting to get GK Autographs

Last weekend our team traveled to the west coast and arrived in Santa Maria, CA for the 26th Annual Thunder Over the Valley Air Show. The Santa Maria community spent the past nine years requesting the presence of the US Army Golden Knights for their air show lineup.

We performed four shows above the Santa Maria Public Airport including two full shows, one mass formation and a stack out (low show performance) due to low visibility. The air show sponsors as well as the local community welcomed us by hosting three socials throughout the weekend located at the Santa Maria Museum of Flight. We all had the opportunity to meet with the air show sponsors, other air show performers, and local community officials to include Mayor Alice Patino.

The community of Santa Maria is very supportive of our Military as we were presented with the Patriot Freedom Key, which we will proudly hang in our team room. We had the honor of meeting a very special guest during our last social, a 92-year-old Santa Maria woman, Lieutenant Marian Marrinan USAAF (United States Army Airforce), who proudly represented our Nation during World War II as a nurse and spoke of her experiences during the first week of Normandy. 1LT Marrinan had an opportunity to meet the team during the social and then proudly stood close to show center during the teams last performance for the weekend, which included a baton pass, diamond track, and mass formation.

We were then individually introduced by our narrator SPC Luke Olk in front of approximately eight thousand spectators who were anxiously waiting for us to make our way to the Army Strong stage for a meet and greet.

The signature of our performances will continue to be the ability we have to interact with the American Public, they assist us with repacking our parachutes, sharing our Army stories, and signing autographs.

This was our last show with the highly motivated Army Strong stage crew (staffed by the Army Marketing and Research Group) and we hope we have the opportunity to reach out to the American public with them during future air shows and demonstrations. The Army Strong stage has become a hit with their music selection, high energy, and local recruiters assisting in connecting today’s Army with the American public. These lasting impressions may one day inspire a young man or woman to become the next US Army Golden Knight! Black team will be performing in Cleveland, Ohio this Labor Day weekend.

Blue Skies!   SDG Bixler, Photos by Jerry Morrison

 

World Champion Golden Knight’s 8-Way Team

8wayCZech_Web0063It was a chilly Monday morning at the 2014 World Parachuting Championships in the Czech Republic. The 8-Way Formation Skydiving Team has completed their eighth and final practice jump out of the L-410 Turbolet aircraft. The L-410 is extremely different than the UV-18 Twin Otter aircraft that the Golden Knights primarily train from. The turbojet door is narrower and taller than the Golden Knights Twin Otter’s door. It’s also harder for us to maintain our grips on one another in the door and the exits don’t come off as clean as exits from the Otter. But after several practice jumps we feel confident enough moving forward. Tonight is the opening ceremonies and the draw. The official competition starts first thing Tuesday morning. The weather forecast is not looking very promising for the next couple of days. They are calling for a high chance of rain but all the teams are staying optimistic and hoping for favorable weather conditions.

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Thunder in the Valley

IMGsmoke_9030Over the past weekend Gold Team participated in the Thunder in the Valley Air Show in Waterloo, IA conducting 3 shows. On Friday, the team did a mass formation with SSG Roman Grijalva, fresh out of Senior Leaders Course, jumping into the show first and then narrating for Children’s Appreciation Day. There were hundreds of students, which came from numerous schools in the area on field trips to attend the Thunder in the Valley Air Show. The Air Show had a social, where the members of the Gold Demonstration Team had the opportunity to get together and meet the sponsors and other performers.

Although Saturday started off with rain and low clouds, the skies quickly opened up to allow the team to do a full show. SGT Blake Gaynor was the first jumper in, and narrated the rest of the team as they came in for dead center landings. The team presented a baton to Reiley Gilbert, a 17 year old, who recently enlisted into the Army and is eagerly waiting to attend Basic Training. Sunday the team conducted another successful full show with SSG Jon Clevenger narrating. The team presented another baton to the Bob Molinaro family, which is a major sponsor of the show.

SSG Mike Koch, Photos by SFC Adrian Hill

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