The Morning news will never be the same. The new found excitement and enthusiasm of Producer/Reporter Claire Hossmann for Wilmington, North Carolina’s WECT channel 6 is not out of the ordinary. Wednesday, September 14th Claire and her cameraman journeyed to Maxton- Laurinburg Airport to the team training center for an opportunity of a lifetime doing a tandem parachute jump with the US Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights.
Claire said, “I have dreamed about jumping out of an airplane all my life and the Golden Knights are making my lifelong dream come true. I wanted to do a story about the US Army Parachute Team Competition Teams winning the Overall country and World Championships. They are the best in the world and people need to know that they are right here at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and have not received the recognition they deserve.”
SGT Jared Zell took Claire into the classroom and showed her the tandem waiver and conducted a detailed class about the jump she was preparing to take. Zell then took her into the hanger to put on her snug black and gold freefall jumpsuit, gloves, goggles, helmet and harness preparing her to be properly dressed for the occasion.
She nervously pulled her hair back into a tight ponytail and kept ringing her hands as SGT Jon Ewald, her videographer walked behind her highlighting her video with the bright orange Dangersign on the back of the harness which she was totally unaware of. He briefly interviewed her asking her what she was getting ready to do and asked her if she was ready. Claire said, “Yes I am, but the video waiver kept saying die, die, you may die, I know I’m not. I know I am in safe hands but it kept saying die, Die, die!!!” and she loudly laughted,”HA, Ha HA!!!!”
The Golden Knight 8-way Team, lead by SFC Brian Krause did several dirt dives and went over to the mock airplane door to practice their exit for Claire’s jump. She tightly clutched her hands together as she watched ever little detail of the maneuver and looked carefully at each individuals face as they exited the door. Everyone lined up with Claire standing in front of SGT Zell simulating the arrowhead formation they were planning to bring together around her for the actual jump. They all then headed out to the teams Twin Otter for that climb two and a half miles above the earth.
Pilots Dave Clay and Frank Reiner flew to about 6,000 feet and the Golden Knight Female 4-way Team (GKF4) exited the plane training for their next meet. The plane then climbed to 12,500 feet for the tandem jump. Claire was bright eyed and seemed to have a gleaming smile as they stood at the door. SGT Zell began rocking back and forth and instantaneously they leapt from the edge of the door into the magnificent fall blue sky at a speed way over the single parachutist speed of a 120mph- terminal velocity.
“The 8-way team magically appeared all around me. I didn’t even see them up there till the cameraman pointed
to them on either side of me,” said Claire. SGT Andrew Starr and SGT Jon Ewald simultaneously circled around the tandem pair and 8-way team and photographed and videoed the unique tandem arrowhead formation.
All of a sudden the GKF4 came whisking by the cameraman on the ground much to his surprise. Then you could hear the distinct flutters of the 8-way team canopies as they swooped by one by one. SGT Zell and Claire gentle came gliding into the drop zone and touched gentle down on the ground below.
Claire began jumping up and down saying that it was fantastic, and how she loved it. Each member of the team came up gave her hugs and high five’s congratulating her on her first jump. She was so excited that she just couldn’t stop talking, but admitted that she did feel a bit sick. Claire said, “That was the most wonderful thing I ever did, but I had to tell Jared to stop spinning me because I felt a little motion sickness, but I do that on Ferris wheels too!”
Claire went into the hangar had a bottle of water and conducted interviews like a real trooper with 8-way Team leader SFC Brian Krause, SFC Matt Davidson an SGT Laura Dickmeyer to conclude the information for her story about the US Army Parachute Team, which should be aired on WECT in a week or two.