Team Six Leads The Way

  SSG Adrian Hill Exits, While Firebirds Fly Along our C-31's Wing TipsGreetings from the flight line here at Pope Army Airfield.  The Aviation Detachment continues supporting the absolute best paratroopers in the world.  We have two air shows under our belt for the 2014 season having recently completed the show at Travis Air Force Base, CA, and returning today from Lakehurst, NJ.  Of course we continue supporting local demonstrations and outreach projects to further connect the American People with America’s Army.    

  Many members of the public fly on commercial and public use aircraft but rarely have the opportunity to look at the maintenance that goes into keeping the fleet in top notch condition.

  This week we decided to snap a few pictures of the maintenance checks being performed on the C-31 Fokker, tail number 607 affectionately known as “Excalibur”.Excaliber




Both C-31 aircraft operated by the United States Army Parachute Team were acquired in 1985 and are pushing 30 years of service.  Both aircraft have in excess of 14,500 hours of total use thus far and over 15,000 landings.  These aircraft have a life span limited to 90,000 landings, and although they are technically in their infancy with regards to their service life, the rapid retirement of F27 from commercial use worldwide make the supply chain for spare parts a limited resource.  With 15,000 landings thus far, inspection of the landing gear system is a continuing process that we trust to our maintenance partners of Kay and Associates.  Below is a picture of the left side of the aircraft with the jack stand fully supporting a third of the total weight of around 28,000 pounds.jack




  Placing an aircraft on jacks requires maintenance professionals who are experts in the procedures.  Kay and Associates, as the team contract maintainers have a team of experts who have worked on this aircraft since it arrived at the team in 1985.  Testing the landing gear is a routine procedure for these professionals but the same level of attention to the procedure is given each and every time.  In the picture below, one mechanic observes cockpit indications while two additional mechanics check and recheck systems before the landing gear is brought to the up position during testing.

gearcheck  Excalibur gets new shoes and a close inspection of the nose gear. 

Typically, the aircraft weighs in excess of 42,000 pounds when fully loaded and departing for an air show.  While taxing, pilots use a small wheel located near each pilots knee that functions much like a car steering wheel.  Prior to take off, the crew unlocks the flight controls and the copilot maintains control of the yoke and the pilot flying steers the airplane down the runway using a combination of rudder and the nose wheel steering.  At 60 knots of airspeed, the pilot flying takes control of the aircraft from the copilot effecting a smooth transition from the runway to powered flight.  Flying the Fokker is a delicate balance of technique and crew coordination.



 Jackstand All aircraft are maintained according to factory specifications.  The US Army Parachute Team operates the only C-31 (Fokker F27) aircraft in the United States.  Aircraft of this type and design were used for many years by FedEx, Piedmont Airlines, and others as reliable commuter and freight carrying aircraft.



Gold Team at Atholton

photogaurd  1Gold Team opened up the show season with an awesome opportunity to connect with some amazing students and JROTC members from Atholton High School in Columbia, Maryland. The weather was looking bleak heading to the school, but the clouds opened up and the sun came out right in time for the show to start.

The team had the privilege of working with local recruiters and two members from their sister unit, the Army Marksmanship Unit, to interact with the students for a few hours before the jump. The members of both teams spent the first hour in a classroom telling their Army stories and answering questions about the many opportunities the Army has to offer, as well as questions about parachuting and marksmanship. After that, the team linked up with the local recruiters outside, where they had an Army Strong booth and pull-up bar for some friendly competition between the students.

After the great morning of interacting with everyone at Atholton, the team geared up and prepared to perform the show. Tandem team leader, SFC Joe Jones and videographer SFC Jared Zell, two of our tandem team members joined us for the performance. They had the honor of taking the Superintendent of the school district, Mrs. Renee Foose, on a tandem skydive into the football field in the middle of Gold Team’s demonstration. As an extra bit of excitement, the whole jump was broadcasted live on an 11 foot jumbotron allowing all the students to see what the videographer was seeing.

SGT Blake Gaynor was the first one to jump, bringing in the POW flag, while a detachment of the Army Band played the Army Strong song. After a beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, performed by a young lady in JROTC, SGT Gaynor narrated the rest of the jumpers into the landing area. The jumps were conducted flawlessly and the baton pass and mass formation was completed without a hitch. Once all the jumpers were on the ground, the team presented the Atholton High School Principal, Mrs. Jennifer Clements, with the baton that was flown in free fall.

Upon completion of the performance, many of the students joined the jumpers on the field to take pictures and ask questions. It was an honor working with the schools JROTC, Color Guard, and Band and the team wishes continued success to all the students of Atholton. Blue Skies.

By SGT Gallagher

 Gaynor photo 12stkphoto 2photo 1 (1)bleachersphoto 2

SitrepAtholtonIt has been a very long year with the extreme government cutbacks, but the Team is running like a fine tuned Ferrari.

The US Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights has always played a leading role as the Department of Defense’s Aerial Parachute Demonstration Team, as well as the Army’s most winning and decorated World Champion Competition Teams. Today, like never before, these Soldiers have to pay attention to every detail, be it technical, physical or psychological to be accepted into this highly select and elite group of Ambassadors of the Army.

Golden Knights are elite Soldiers from around the world with diversified skills, technological training and backgrounds, who all share a true passion and professional dedication not only to succeed, but to excel in support of their country while connecting the Army with the American Public.

This past year more so than days past, the Command and team members intensified the Assessment and Selection Program, Annual Certification Cycle and Laurinburg-Maxton drop zone training progressively. They’ve widened the long range mission using visionary planning through class room, wind tunnel and ground training to guarantee, excellence, professionalism and precision ultimately to progress with a dynamic show season.

This first demonstration of the show season by the Gold Demonstration Team today offered a truly versatile experience, displaying flags, 2-stacks and served as a venue to take the students, guest and faculty on a voyage to a three dimensional speed of majestic viewing the art of parachuting through their eyes and to enjoy a virtual trip through these beautiful Columbia, Maryland skies.

SSG George Perez helps Superintendent Foose following tandem jump from 13,500 ft.

SSG George Perez helps Superintendent Foose following tandem jump from 13,500 ft.

Today Howard County’s first female school Superintendent Renee Foose made a tandem jump at Atholton High School in front of about 3000 students faculty and quest. Ms Foose was on a mission to inspire students to dream big. She said,” you can jump out of airplanes, or be the next winner of the Voice.” From a glorious past, showcased by fifty-five years of testing, evaluation, experimentation and record-breaking history presented through the lens of its past to the bright expanding technological clear eye to its future was exemplified by the exclusive premier of the live video feed meticulously designed by Black team photographer SSG Chris Clark, seen from 12,500 feet above earth today, at the Atholton High School Demonstration.

Superintendent Renee Foose thanking SFC Joe Jones for incredible experience!

Superintendent Renee Foose thanking SFC Joe Jones for incredible experience!





It has only just begun….. there will be a lot more exciting news to follow, stay tuned!

 2stack Gaynorpking

SSG Perez directs SSG Clark who is wearing the video transmitter on his helment to the dropzone

SSG Perez directs SSG Clark who is wearing the video transmitter on his helment to the dropzone


News Media documenting event

News Media documenting event




Gold Demonstration Team with Atholton JRTC Cadet

Gold Demonstration Team with Atholton JRTC Cadet

GK lady in training with SSG Gallagher

GK lady in training with SSG Gallagher







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