Black Demonstration Michigan to Atlantic City

_Michigan collage_9745The Black Demonstration Team received a warm welcome upon landing at the Willow Run Airport for the Thunder Over Michigan Air Show last week. We stepped off our C-31 aircraft and the impressions began with plane -side radio, television, and newspaper interviews. We kicked off the weekend with a mass formation performance (each jumper rapidly exiting both the left and right door to fly together using their arms, legs, and shoulders) above a reported 300,000 air-show spectators both days. We had the honor of presenting the Golden Knight’s baton, which was flown in freefall and then presented to CEO of Detroit Wayne Airport Mr. Thomas Naughton. After our performance we spent quality time with our local Army recruiters from the Great Lakes Recruiting Battalion as well as the American public. Sunday mirrored our performance from the previous day and the team once again had the honor of spending more time with the local Army recruiters and American public. We spent close to two hours signing autographs and posing for the ever-popular “Selfie” with our Golden Knight fans!

On Monday, the team packed up for our departure from Willow Run Airport into Atlantic City, NJ where we were scheduled for three mass formation performances with Dave Schutlz Air Shows for the Thunder over the Boardwalk Air Show. Prior to kicking off the air show Tuesday and Wednesday the team attended the event sponsored social Salute to Veterans held at the Borgata Resort. We were all introduced on stage by the one and only Mr. Tony Orlando (lead singer of Tony Orlando and Dawn) prior to his performance that evening.

We had the best view in the house from our C-31 jump aircraft on Wednesday above the Atlantic City skyline where we looked down and saw the beach filled with thousands of Military supporters and air show enthusiasts. Unfortunately the low ceiling for our first performance on Wednesday sent the team back to the airfield to wait for the clouds to lift. The skies above Atlantic City opened up for us that afternoon as our team leader SFC Kevin Presgraves gave a thumbs up signal of stand-by! We exited directly above the city and came together for another mass formation with our signature bomb burst break off creating one big Golden Knight firework in the sky with our red smoke trails. We could hear the roar of the crowd on the beach as our black and gold canopies hovered above several thousand spectators as SGT Travis Downing worked to get the crowd even more excited as he told them “ladies and gentlemen these jumpers can hear you very well at 1,000 feet”!

Each jumper safely made their way into the blocked off landing area and we were then face-to-face with several thousand supporters waiting for a wave from their favorite Golden Knight. The entire team was introduced to the crowd and then we all heard the famous last words of our narrator “May all of your days be prosperous and your knights golden”. The shift from thousands of people on the beach to the boardwalk became evident as the entire team stood in front of the Army recruiting tent to begin signing autographs for the anxious New Jersey crowd. It was an honor to work with Dave Schutlz Air Shows this past season as well as the USAF Thunderbirds. Black team continues their show season in Santa Maria, California and Cleveland, Ohio this next week.

Ten-Way photo by SSG Reese Pendleton

Ten-Way photo by SSG Reese Pendleton


SSG James Hackett

SSG James Hackett


Northeastern Canopy Pilot League Holds 3rd Meet at Skydive Cross Keys

SFC Jow Abeln Swoops his way to Victory

SFC Joe Abeln Swoops his way to Victory

SFC Joe Abeln and SFC Jared Zell of the US Army Golden Knights Canopy Piloting Team were in action Saturday at the third meet of the Northeastern Canopy Pilot Leage (NECPL). The competition took place at Skydive Cross Keys in Williamstown, NJ just east of Philadelphia. The drop zone had a busy line up hosting a Swoop Competition, a Sisters in Skydiving event, a Parachutists over Phorty (POPS) record attempt and over 100 Tandems scheduled. The weather was perfect with clear blue skies and light winds. The 16 Competitors were off to an early start with a 0700 competitor briefing. Once the loads were sorted the Canopy Pilots took to the sky.

The day started with the Speed event and SFC Abeln put down the fastest time of the day with 2.891 sec. Sven Jseppi of the Canadian National time was just behind him with a run of 2.901 seconds. SFC Abeln took 2nd in the Speed event while teammate SFC Zell took 5th. The competition switched to Distance. The thick air kept the distance runs shorter than expected. Again Abeln and Zell were looking at Jseppi just ahead of them. The Competition finished up with the Zone Accuracy event. Abeln was 27 points off the lead with two rounds to go. This challenging event tests the competitors overall ability to control speed and distance. SFC Abeln and SFC Zell both finished the meet with the best Zone Accuracy scores of the day both standing up in Zone 6.   Abeln finished 1st place in Zone Accuracy but was only able to make up 24 of the 27 points needed to take the lead and finished 2nd place overall while Zell finished in 5th place. There is one meet left of the NECPL series. The last Competition will be on September 13th at Skydive Cross Keys. SFC Abeln looks to hold on to his overall standing of 1st place over the first 3 meets. For a look at the scores of all the meets check out



Black Team Returns to Reading, Pa

ReadingCollage 72714BKGround attractions at the Reading Aerofest included a classic car show, open to pre-1970 vehicles, aircraft displays, and many anxious spectators awaiting the Golden Knight’s opening performance for the weekend. The Golden Knight’s were invited back to the Reading Aerofest that was last sponsored back in 1998 which was also the last time the team made it’s appearance there.

We had the honor of welcoming several media representatives on board our C31 Friendship aircraft this weekend for an up close and personal tour of the skies above Reading Regional Airport. Each of them layered for the temperature change on the climb to altitude and securely seated right next to both jump doors. We truly get a sense of the impressions made on the American public when talking with our media passengers during the climb to 12,500 feet. Each of them commenting on the composure, professionalism, and bravery of each jumper as they prepare to exit the Golden Knight C31 for their designated maneuver.

The Black demonstration team performed five shows during the weekend to include three mass performances and two full shows. The team quickly exits the aircraft for our mass formation as each one of us chases the jumper in front using both jump doors. We then fly our bodies together using our hands, arms legs and shoulders as flight controls. Once we are all linked together the formation continues to fly at approximately 120 miles per hour, while SSG Reese Pendleton circles us setting up the best angles for photos and video. The crowd favorite is when we separate prior to opening our parachutes creating the signature bomb burst affect with our smoke trails!

A special thanks to the Reading Recruiting Station for their professionalism and understanding of our mission in connecting the US Army to the American public! And as always thank you to Dave Schultz Air Show and the community of Reading, Pa for inviting us back.

SSG Shelby Bixer, photos by SSG Reese Pendleton

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