It has been a sensational first week for the team training here at Homestead, AFB. Monday the Aviation crew and team members safely arrived to the great Sunshine State. The advance party greeted us and escorted us over to the headquarters to await the truck with all of the gear and equipment.
Everyone jumped right in to download and set up everything for the upcoming training and then checked in to the hotel to get settled into our home away from home.
7:00am each morning the demo teams suit up climb on the bus and head over to the flight line to hop onto “GK Air,” their office in the sky honed by “Team Six.”
The other teams’ “new guy’s” practice their narration on microphone as background music plays softly as they slowly walk up and down the imaginary crowd line. Each of the newly knighted team members are assigned an “old guy” to mentor and guide them through this intense training to assure they are adequately prepared to meet the American public during their first show season.
Any of the individuals that are having difficulties and are not performing superbly in each area will be individually coached by members of the team to bring them up to the Golden Knight standard. If for some reason they do not pass the courses during this winter training period they will not be allowed to accompany the team to show destinations and will be continually trained at the teams drop zone at Laurinburg-Maxton Airport in North Carolina.
When the bus arrives from the flight line the narrator tells the rest of the team to suit up and everyone immediately runs over to the enormous black tent which shades all of the gear which is precisely laid out in a prestine row beginning with the team leader. As they head over to the plane the first C-31 Friendship Fokker flies high over head releasing the first group on the manifest.
As the plane flies by you can see one parachute after the other deploying from the side doors of the plane until the sky is full of beautiful black and gold chutes in the majestic blue sky. Each jumper circles and turns setting up for the right approach and set their sites for the bright orange target placed on the drop zone by SFC Bovee, who is in charge of the dz.
Right now there are a lot of fives, but I’m sure it will improve as the weeks go on. The teams are super supportive counseling and coaching their peers. At the end of the day for the final jump everyone gathers around the target to cheer each other on. The assistant team leader gets the video footage that Mike Battise has been shooting all day so they can review each jump. Everyone gathers their equipment heads for the team room debriefing and looks to the start of a new day.