Labor Day at Cleveland National Air Show

_MG_4279The Black Demonstration team spent Labor Day weekend performing over a

reported 300,000 spectators during the Cleveland National Air Show. We were

not graced with favorable weather conditions throughout the weekend, but the

team stayed composed and flexible with any last minute changes made in order

to safely exit our C31 and put on a great performance!

We were scheduled to perform six shows throughout the weekend to include

three mass formation performances in addition to three full shows. One of

our full show performances was cancelled due to the winds being out of our

safety limits. However, our highly skilled pilots Mr. Al Aber and CW4 Josh

Howe landed our C31 in front of show center as the rest of the team stepped

off the plane wearing our maroon berets in preparation for a team lineup.

Our narrator SSG David Echeverry informed the crowd that we were not able to

safely perform our show that afternoon, but he was still honored to have the

opportunity to introduce his teammates that would have been performing their

assigned maneuvers.

We wrapped up the weekend having performed three mass shows and two low

shows. Along with our performances last weekend our tandem team teammates

SSG Rich Sloan and SSG Jon Lopez performed three tandem jumps to Q104 radio

personality Carley McChord, Dawn Kendrick from Channel 19 Cleveland, and Mr.

Raymond Brown President of the Cleveland National Air Show.

Black Team is preparing for their show into the Georgia Southern University

Football game this weekend.

Blue Skies!  SSG Shelby Bixler

Cleveland National Air Show 2014

Cleveland National Air Show 2014

SGT Travis Downing exiting C-31

SGT Travis Downing exiting C-31

SSG Shelby Bixler mentoring  little ladies to join the Army

SSG Shelby Bixler mentoring little ladies to join the Army

Black Team Line Up

Black Team Line Up

Thunder Over Santa Maria

Fans waiting to get GK Autographs

Fans waiting to get GK Autographs

Last weekend our team traveled to the west coast and arrived in Santa Maria, CA for the 26th Annual Thunder Over the Valley Air Show. The Santa Maria community spent the past nine years requesting the presence of the US Army Golden Knights for their air show lineup.

We performed four shows above the Santa Maria Public Airport including two full shows, one mass formation and a stack out (low show performance) due to low visibility. The air show sponsors as well as the local community welcomed us by hosting three socials throughout the weekend located at the Santa Maria Museum of Flight. We all had the opportunity to meet with the air show sponsors, other air show performers, and local community officials to include Mayor Alice Patino.

The community of Santa Maria is very supportive of our Military as we were presented with the Patriot Freedom Key, which we will proudly hang in our team room. We had the honor of meeting a very special guest during our last social, a 92-year-old Santa Maria woman, Lieutenant Marian Marrinan USAAF (United States Army Airforce), who proudly represented our Nation during World War II as a nurse and spoke of her experiences during the first week of Normandy. 1LT Marrinan had an opportunity to meet the team during the social and then proudly stood close to show center during the teams last performance for the weekend, which included a baton pass, diamond track, and mass formation.

We were then individually introduced by our narrator SPC Luke Olk in front of approximately eight thousand spectators who were anxiously waiting for us to make our way to the Army Strong stage for a meet and greet.

The signature of our performances will continue to be the ability we have to interact with the American Public, they assist us with repacking our parachutes, sharing our Army stories, and signing autographs.

This was our last show with the highly motivated Army Strong stage crew (staffed by the Army Marketing and Research Group) and we hope we have the opportunity to reach out to the American public with them during future air shows and demonstrations. The Army Strong stage has become a hit with their music selection, high energy, and local recruiters assisting in connecting today’s Army with the American public. These lasting impressions may one day inspire a young man or woman to become the next US Army Golden Knight! Black team will be performing in Cleveland, Ohio this Labor Day weekend.

Blue Skies!   SDG Bixler, Photos by Jerry Morrison


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


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