Justin Brayton, Muscle Milk/Toyota JGRMX Team Rider took a Really Quick Ride Today from 12,500 Feet

Justin Brayton took an exhilarating new ride today with the United States Army Parachute Team Golden Knights Tandem Section at the Wide Open MX Park in Raeford, North Carolina.

Prior to the jump, SSG Joe Abeln conducted a tandem class for Justin and Heath at the teams drop zone at Laurinburg-Maxton Airport, in Laurinburg, NC.Following the official training, changing into the black and gold Golden Knight jumpsuit, fitting of helment, gloves, goggles, harness and practice jump from the mock airplane door in the hangar they were ready to go.

SSG Abeln, Justin, and SFC Brian Krause, 8-Way Team leader and photographer along with SFC Kurt Isenbarger Heath Rowe’s tandem master and SFC Larry Miller, photographer headed out to the teams UV-18 “Twin Otter.”  

The Otter circled over the MX Park as the crowd gathered around below peering above to catch a glimpse of the plane. The wind streamers came falling from the sky and kids jumped up and down shouting “There they are!”Darin Grim, former Golden Knight went over and talked with them and explained what they were seeing and what to look for as the plane flew to altitude.

Inside the plane, SSG Abeln asked Justin how he felt and he said, “I can’t wait” and SSG Abeln said, “We are climbing to 12,500 feet and we’re going to be going 120 mph, I think that is a little faster than you can go on a dirt bike.”SFC Miller asked Heath how he was feeling and he said,” I’m really excited, I’ve got my man Kurt here and I want to do some free style.”

 The skies were a brilliant blue with huge white puffy clouds and the silhouette of the plane had disappeared from view. SSG Sean Sweeney who was pulling ground called up the wind readings to the pilots and gave them a “hot target” call, which let them know it was okay to proceed with the jump operation. Everyone was gazing up in to the sky and SFC Matt Davidson came swooping in to the landing area as everyone cheered.

A moment later you could hear shouts and hollers from high above Justin was waving to all below and SSG Abeln brought Justin in for a great stand up landing. Justin began to high five those around him and said, “That was so fun, it’s ridiculous, it’s so sic, let’s do it again!”

Following Heath’s landing they greeted each other bumping knuckles and Heath said, “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done, that was rad!”



Strength Starts Here!

An early morning tandem flies by the setting moon. ( photo by SSG Abeln)The Fort Knox Tandem Camp wrapped up Friday not with Tandems but a Demo into Hardin Central High School.  The jump ended a very successful week at Fort Knox.  In all, the Tandem Team managed to conduct 30 Tandems despite windy and cold wether.


Thursday was another day sponsored by the 3rd Recruiting Brigade.  Diane Pagel, a counselor from St. Mary’s High School in Wisconsin, spent the day learning about the many different jobs the Army has to offer.  The Tandem Team took her 2 1/2 miles over the Gold Bullion Depository and let her experience one job that offers a great view. Her Army Strong day will surely be told to many students at St. Mary’s. Unfortunately the high winds from Tuesday and Wednesday were still around. After 7 tandem jumps were completed, SFC Mike Elliott made the safety decision that the winds were too gusty to safely land a tandem parachute.  For the remaining 7 jumpers they would have to wait one more day to jump with the Golden Knights.

Friday the winds had diminished and the weather was phenomenal.  The Tandem Team hosted CSM John Troxell.  CSM Troxell is the Accessions Command and Human Resource Center of Excellence Command Sergeant Major at Fort Knox. CSM Troxell put his trust and confidence in SFC Elliott to take  him on his first Tandem Jump.  He is a veteran of many static line jumps but had not had the chance to free fall at 120 mph.  The jump went so well that when a slot opened up on the last lift of the day CSM Troxell took to the skies once more this time with SSG Joe Abeln. Everyone on on the ground below could here the Command Sergeant Major while descending under the black and gold parachute.  He proclaimed,  “Strength Starts Here”!

Friday night after the tandems were complete the Tandem Team had one last mission for the Fort Knox area.  A local High School football game was being held between John Hardin High School and Central Hardin High School two of Kentucky’s best High School football programs, and rivals.  The jump went off just after sunset on a cold October night.  SFC Elliott trailed pyrotechnics out of the Twin Otter door as Team Six flew over the football field.  The packed stands welcomed Tandem Team with loud screams and cheers as each jump landed on the 50 yard line sporting the schools football jersey’s.  A great jump finished out the week at Fort Knox.

The Tandem Team isn’t slowing down just yet.  Two members of the Tandem team are currently in Fort Worth, TX where the are jumping Ross Perot Jr.  They will move on to Lackland Air Force Base later this week bringing the Tandem Team to the San Antonio area.  Also Two other members of the team are heading to sunny FL for tandems at the Homestead Air show next weekend.

Tandem Team is Golden at Fort Knox

Mitch Barnhart

Mitch Barnhart of the University of Kentucky jumps with SSG Joe Jones

The Golden Knights Tandem Team packed up shop once again, and for the week, is calling Fort Knox, Ky home. The Tandem Team arrived on Monday to set up operations on the main parade field.  Three full days of Tandems were planned for the event.  Mother Nature had plans of her own.  Tuesday was to be the first day of jumping but came and went with out a single lift flown.   (more…)

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