Kerry Sanders, NBC Correspondent Tandem Parachute Jumps With Golden Knights

IMG5x7_6236 Miami-based correspondent Kerry Sanders with NBC put his life in the hands of Soldier SFC Noah Watts to conduct a tandem parachute jump this morning over the beautiful blue skies of Fort Bragg, NC.

Mr. Sanders and SFC Watts began their morning at about 6:30 a.m. with an interview on NBC Today Show on Green Ramp at Pope Army Airfield. Mr. Sanders said, “ I am honored and thrilled to be part of the Hiring Heroes Plan and to thank all of the Soldiers for service to their country and to be with this program to help with what you do in the civilian world.”

Sanders and entourage then fled to the Golden Knight hanger to ascend in the Twin Otter to climb to 13,000 feet for his grand leap. Prior to getting on the plane Kerry said, that he was sure someone was going to ask him why was he going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, and all he could say was that he was an adrenaline junkie and he knew it was going to be absolutely amazing.

When at altitude SFC Jon Ewald one of his videographers asked him what he was thinking? Kerry said, ”It’s really a long way down there!!! But I have all the faith in All ya’ll, and the Soldiers I put my life in the hands of in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Videographer SSG Jonathan Lopez climbed out onto the side of the plane, SFC Watts and Kerry stepped to the edge of the door and were gone in split second.

SPC Daniel Osorio was the first jumper to hit the ground before a thousand cheering Soldiers. Meanwhile, SFC JD Berentis and SFC Tom Melton were flying bright red smoke alongside Mr. Sanders as they rapidly approached the earth. Followed by SFC Adrian Hill who proudly flew in a Army Star flag surrounded by the words Solders for Life.

Momentarily the gleaming face of Mr Sanders swiftly glided by the two huge Howitzers and XVIII ABN white and blue emblem and came to a soft standing halt.

Mr Sanders joined his crew and said,”Even though I did this before, seven years ago, it seemed brand new, and I don’t know maybe it was because of live cameras. The Golden Knights and Fort Bragg have made me feel so welcomed.”

XVlll Airborne Corps, LTC Gary Belcher and Fort Bragg have been working to host the Hiring Heroes Plan with Ms. Teresa Gerton (DAS for Veterans Employment and Training, Dept of Labor); Dr. Susan Kelly (Director, Transition to Veterans Program Office);BG David MacEwen (The Adjutant General of the Army); Ms. Rosye Cloud (Sr Adv, Veteran Employment, Veterans Benefit Admin; Mr. Eric Eversole (Executive Director, Hiring Our Heroes); Mr. Ross Cohen (Senior Director, Hiring Our Heroes); Mr. Kerry Sanders (NBC News and Today Show contributor) and numerous organizations to hold a successful Transition Summit.

A Few objectives of this event was to unify local, regional and national efforts to educate up to 1200 Soldiers and their Families, who will transition from the military in 3-18 months on the enormous number of resources available to them as they transition from military service, reintegrate into civilian life and to prepare them for transition into the civilian workforce; conduct a North Carolina focused hiring event for up to 150 Soldiers who are less than sixty days from separating from the Army.

Hidden Guardian’s of the Knights’

GaurdiansLike the tales of days of ole the secret hero’s identities were rarely known. The US Army Parachute has a hidden team of skilled tradesmen that protect the lives of passengers they escort throughout the land.

We have an elite team of proficient expert contract maintainers from Kay and Associates, who work continually to maintain and assure the teams, make the mission safely and without delay.

It is not rare to see two aircraft docked in the team hangar at Pope Army Airfield on any given day. This week alone, they masterfully have already completed a 125 hour inspection on the teams Freedom, 80263 Twin Otter making several component changes.

Aircraft Mechanic, George Navy a trained Army Soldier and now contractor for “Team Six” checked the thirteen fuel nozzles, inspected filters, combustion in the Pratt & Whitney engine in lieu of the old planes carburetors.

I asked where they learned about maintaining all of the team’s fleet of aircraft and Jason Drozd, another of our skilled aircraft mechanics showed me the license he received from the FAA from the Airframe and Power Plant (AMP) School which he attended for two years. He also explained various part of the engine to include the operation of a hi- capacity capacitor and how it received a voltage charge.

George invited us back to observe the Hot Section Inspection, which will be done in about forty more hours of flight for our Fokker 607. They routinely conduct that inspection on our C-31’s every 3,000 hours of flight, which makes me feel really comfortable.

This Team of experts has competently worked on our two C-31 Friendship Fokker’s since they arrived at the team in 1985. These aircraft have a life span limited to 90,000 landings, but both of our aircraft have in excess of 14,500 hours of total use thus far and over 15,000 landings.

Being I personally fly in the team aircraft along with demonstrators, competitors, Tandem Team and Centers of Influence it is so assuring to know just how safe we are due to the outstanding service and maintenance of these Our Kay and Associates Hero’s!

Freedom One of four of the  USAPT Twin Otters

Freedom One of four of the USAPT Twin Otters

13 Fuel Nozzles to be changed

13 Fuel Nozzles to be changed

George Navy pulling down cowlings to work on aircraft

George Navy pulling down cowlings to work on aircraft

Aircraft Mechanic Jason Drozd by Freedom

Aircraft Mechanic Jason Drozd by Freedom

Fuel Nozzles on Twin Otter Freedom

George Navy Checking Hartaell Prop During 125 Hour Inspection

Gear Check on C-31 Friendship Fokker

Gear Check on C-31 Friendship Fokker

 

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Thunder Over Utah

ThunderUtah Goldweb

The Gold Demonstration Team has had a busy weekend in the beautiful state of Utah. The team traveled to Saint George for the Thunder Over Utah Air Show. The unpredictable weather made it a little tricky for the jumpers and pilots participating in the show. Sadly, the team was unable to perform on Friday due to extremely high winds. This made the crowd even more eager for Saturday. Saturday morning started off beautifully with hardly any wind. The narrator made the first jump of the day, flying in the American Flag to the National Anthem. The crowd was very excited and the enthusiasm carried throughout the entire show.

Gold Team performed a full show, ending the performance with a mass, as the remaining jumpers built a formation in the sky. By the time the last jumpers exited the aircraft, the winds were howling. This made the jump a little tricky, but with the encouragement of the audience, all the jumpers made it safely to the ground in beautiful Golden Knight fashion. After the show was over, the team acquired some amazing kids to help pack up their parachutes for the next days jump.

Sunday also proved to be an outstanding day for jumping. Specialist Daniel Osorio got the show started for the afternoon by flying in the American Flag. He then made his way to Rob Reider, Airshow host extraordinaire, where he narrated his entire team performing a Mass maneuver. This was not just any mass, however, once the initial formation was built in the sky, the team went on to perform the Golden Knight Bomb Burst, a planned Cut-Away, and also linked up two parachutes in the sky for Canopy Relative Work. It was an exciting jump, as there was so much going on. The team performed flawlessly and the crowd once again gave each of the jumpers a warm reception upon landing.

The Knights also had the privilege of jumping two tandem passengers at the Airshow. SFC Joe Abeln and SSG Jon Lopez from the Tandem Team accompanied Gold Team as they jumped from 11, 500 feet to give these great passengers a ride of a lifetime.

Thunder Over Utah is a fun show with a great gathering of spectators and outstanding line up of performers. The team is looking forward to coming back to this beautiful state. Until then, Blue Skies!
SSG Gallagher, photos by SSG Trey Martin.

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