Three Golden Knights Injured In Training Accident; Two In Critical Condition

posted in: Parachute Team | 0

US Army Golden Knights - AirshowStuff

Three members of the US Army Golden Knights parachute team remain hospitalized tonight after they were injured early this morning during a pre-dawn training jump at Homestead ARB near Miami. The incident occurred right around 4am, when two of the soldiers were airlifted and the third was transported by ambulance. Two remain in critical condition and one is in serious condition.

Very little information is being made public pending the notification of families, but ABC 11 in North Carolina obtained a call to 911 describing spinal injuries including “loss of sensation and movement”.

The team is based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but conducts winter training at Homestead prior to each airshow season. Their first performance is scheduled for the end of March. They routinely jump into events at night, and all indications are that they were practicing such a jump when something went wrong.

This is the most serious incident involving the Golden Knights since Sgt. First Class Corey Hood was killed during a performance at the Chicago Air and Water Show in 2015. He collided with a another jumper and lost consciousness before hitting the ground.

Our thoughts go out to the injured jumpers as well as their team mates and families. We hope they make a ful recovery and join us at airshows very soon!

AirVenture 2018 To Highlight Skydiving With Unique Performances

posted in: Airshows, Parachute Team | 0

Parachutes at EAA AirVenture

EAA announced a new focal point at the 2018 AirVenture airshow today – skydiving! The annual event, known to many simply as “Oshkosh”, will feature several different types of skydiving demonstrations this year. The Patriot Parachute Team, a regular at AirVenture, will perform their usual ‘flag jump’ to open the show, as well as a nighttime pyrotechnic routine during the night airshow. The Red Bull Air Force will demonstrate a low-altitude “BASE”-style jump from the Red Bull helicopter, and show off their highly maneuverable wingsuits alongside Kirby Chambliss’ Edge 540. The Vertical Elite group will be featured during the night airshow as well, using colorful LEDs on their suits to light up the sky. Perhaps the coolest performance will come from the International Skydiving Museum Eagles, a group of more than 100 jumpers who assemble into massive formations during freefall.

The article does not mention if the group will attempt to claim a new record for most jumpers in formation after 108 skydivers calling themselves “Eagles Over Oshkosh” set the Wisconsin state record during AirVenture 2015 appearance. They were attempting to grab the world record. Director of AirVenture Air Show Operations Dennis Dunbar says that fan reaction to that appearance was a driving force behind the 2018 focus. You can watch for yourself in our video below!

Make sure to add your thoughts, get information, and share photos in the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 thread on our forum

Here is the full text of the EAA press release:

March 29, 2018 – A number of skydiving activities are scheduled to take place during the afternoon and night air shows on Wednesday, July 25, during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018, celebrating an area of aviation that has been less prevalent at AirVenture in the past.

“While skydiving has always been a part of AirVenture, the reaction to the mass parachute jump demonstration in 2015 reinforced a desire to see more of the diverse methods people use to depart ‘perfectly good aircraft’ and ultimately land with a parachute,” said Dennis Dunbar, director of AirVenture air show operations.

The Patriot Parachute Team will kick off the afternoon air show and the day’s skydiving activities, putting on a patriotic display of the American flag during the national anthem. In a second act, the team will demonstrate what it takes to be an elite U.S. Navy SEAL, and a member of one of the premier skydiving demonstration teams in the nation. The team will also perform a pyrotechnics routine in the night air show, highlighting maneuvers only their team has ever performed.

The International Skydiving Museum Eagles, named in honor of the Eagles aerobatic team, includes 100-plus jumpers from more than 10 countries. They will perform massive and intricately patterned formations, aweing crowds as they break away with lateral speeds of more than 70 mph and vertical speeds of 120 mph before their parachutes pop open.

The Red Bull Air Force will amaze crowds day and night with cutting-edge demonstrations and an AirVenture-first low-altitude base jump from the famous Red Bull helicopter. The Red Bull Air Force wingsuit pilots will demonstrate their maneuverability and flights made famous in motion pictures, while the Red Bull helicopter and Kirby Chambliss in his Red Bull Edge 540 fly formation aerobatics with the wingsuits.

Vertical Elite will streak across the night sky from miles above the ground in a sensational show. Diving with their heads toward the Earth, they will accelerate to 170 mph, with formations of skeletal LED visuals and pyrotechnics lighting up the sky before they land feet from our night air show attendees.

“We have gone out and found the most talented teams and individuals that represent their facet of skydiving and have gathered them in Oshkosh to put on a once in a lifetime opportunity to see what skydiving has to offer,” Dennis said.

In The Air With The 2016 US Army Golden Knights

posted in: Airshows, Military, Parachute Team | 0

US Army Golden Knights

The Golden Knights have been dazzling crowds and representing the US Army for over fifty-seven years. The Gold and Black demonstration teams traverse the United States each season, performing at airshows, festivals, fairs, baseball games, and other special events. These jumps are designed to connect the public with soldiers they may not see otherwise and to enhance the Army’s recruitment efforts.

During the 2016 season, AirshowStuff had the unique opportunity to go up in the Golden Knights’ jump plane for two of their parachute jumps, one at the Appalachian Fair in Tennessee and the other at the Cleveland National Airshow in Ohio. The experience is unlike any other ride you may take with an airshow performer. Why? The first reason has to do with temperature. When they tell you before your flight to bring a jacket with you, they’re not kidding.

The C-31A Troopships and DHC-6-400 Twin Otters that carry the Knights (and media representatives) both have large open doors to let the jumpers out. With no insulation or heat in the cabin, the temperature drops significantly as the aircraft climbs up jump altitude at 12,500 feet above the ground. Often times, the temperature is a chilly 40-50 degrees, even in the middle of summer! Combine that with a wicked wind blasting in the open doors, and you’re going to be shivering.

US Army Golden KnightsUS Army Golden Knights

The preparation for the demonstration begins long before the aircraft leaves the ground, though. Before the flight, the jumpers line up near the rear of the aircraft and are briefed on the mission. Any special tasks or potential issues are discussed. The team will also practice how they will line up after the jump to be introduced to the crowd.

US Army Golden Knights - C-31 TroopshipUS Army Golden Knights

About 45-50 minutes before time on target, the aircraft takes off with the crew stomping to pump themselves up. Once the aircraft is in the air, it begins to climb an altitude of 2,000 feet to execute the wind drift indicator drop. These wind drift indicators allow for a visualization of the winds in the lowest thousand feet above the ground, critical for a pinpoint drop zone landing. Once the indicators have been dropped and logged, the aircraft climbs to its target altitude. This all occurs 20-30 minutes before time on target, so the aircraft often circles the target zone several times before the hot target run is called.

If an altitude of 12,500 feet is allowed by the weather, two different shows can be performed. The “mass show” entails the narrator exiting the aircraft and unfurling the American flag from his parachute. Following his jump and some pre-show narration, the rest of the team exits and joins up in one large freefall formation. The full show consists of four separate jump runs and maneuvers; the baton pass, cutaway, diamond track, and diamond formation. If a lower altitude is necessary or another issue raises concerns, the show can be altered further.

US Army Golden KnightsUS Army Golden Knights

When it’s time to jump, the jump master will give a HOT TARGET call and hand signal. This call will then be passed back from the front of the plane to the rear by all members, to ensure the message has been received. Now, it’s time to press record on the GoPros, wait for the green light, and then jump! With a loud rush of noise, the jumpers are gone and the plane is suddenly very empty. As the jumpers touch down below, the aircraft rapidly descends to land. Another show complete for the hardworking Golden Knights!

Check out the video below for a special formation jump by two members of the Golden Knights Black Team into the Appalachian Fair in Gray, TN. Thank you to both the Black and Gold demonstration teams as well as the Cleveland National Airshow!

Golden Knight Injured In Chicago Collision Dies

posted in: Airshows, Miscellaneous, Popular Posts | 1
US Army Golden Knight Corey Hood - Dayton Airshow 2015
Sgt. First Class Corey Hood looks out the door while performing in Dayton earlier this year

The US Army Golden Knight that was injured in a mid air collision with a US Navy Leap Frog during the Chicago Air and Water Show this weekend has died of his injuries. He has been identified as 32-year-old Sgt. First Class Corey Hood. Originally from Cincinnati, OH, Sgt. Hood had served in the Army for more than 10 years and earned several medals during that time. He was an Airborne Forward Observer and served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming a member of the Golden Knights’ Black demonstration team. Sgt. Hood was one of the Golden Knights present when AirshowStuff’s Patrick Barron rode with the team earlier this year at the Dayton Airshow.

Sgt. First Class Corey Hood - Dayton Airshow 2015

The two parachute teams were performing together at the airshow, and the two jumpers apparently collided while splitting apart in a bomb burst maneuver. The Leap Frog suffered a broken leg and was treated by medics upon landing. Witnesses report that Sgt. Hood appeared to be under canopy but unconscious as he neared the ground. He clipped a building before falling to the sidewalk below. The Golden Knights canceled their remaining performances this weekend and initiated a safety stand down to review the incident.

Our thoughts are with Sgt. Hood’s family and friends, especially his team members.

The US Army Golden Knights Drop In To Dayton

posted in: Airshows, Event Recap, Military | 0

US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

After circling over Dayton, Ohio for 20 minutes, a jumper yells “HOT TARGET!” Having carefully watched streamers show them the intensity of the winds and having also monitored the movements of the first jumper who carried the American flag, all of their checks were complete and one by one they jumped from 12,500 feet. In the blink of an eye, they’re hundreds of feet from the plane in free-fall. These are the US Army Golden Knights, the best of the best at parachute jumping.

US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

Formed in 1959 by nineteen airborne soldiers, the team was originally known as the Strategic Army Corps Sport Parachute Team. It later became the Army’s official aerial demonstration team in 1961, and picked up the nickname Golden Knights in 1962. Over the last 53 years, the team has performed over 16,000 times in all 50 United States and 48 different countries. The airshow portion of the Golden Knights is comprised of two 12-member teams: the Gold and the Black teams, representing the colors of the US Army. Each team flies in a Fokker C-31A Friendship jump aircraft, the only two in the country. This year, it was the Black team that performed in Dayton.

US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

Before the flight, each team member remained calm and relaxed. Some drank Gatorade and socialized with other team members, while others took quick naps in the back of the plane. As show-time drew near, they began their usual routine. One team member read off the briefing on a piece of laminated paper. When this was complete, they split off and began practicing their routine by walking through it on the grass. For the formation jumpers this involved locking arms and twirling in the grass just like they would in free-fall. For the solo jumpers: a short walk. Just before boarding the plane they grouped in a circle for some motivational words, like a sports team just before the big game. We took our seats in the plane, strapped in, and were ready to go.

They warned us that at the altitudes we would be flying at, hypoxia could become an issue due to the air becoming thinner. Ironically the worst air we inhaled was on the ground while the engines were started up and the pilots performed their checks. The doors stayed open for the entire operation, from pre-flight to landing. This meant the lovely smell of engine exhaust for a few solid minutes. Fresh air flowed into the fuselage as we taxied out and made our way to the runway where we took off without hesitation.

US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

It didn’t take long into the flight for team members to start looking out the plane to analyze their jump. While members of the media were strapped in and instructed not to touch their lap belt until the plane had landed and the engines had stopped, the Golden Knights walked freely throughout the cabin. Some gazed out the door as the aircraft circled over the air-field. Some went near the cockpit to talk among themselves. Some used the bathroom tucked away in a small door in the aft end of the plane: a small cabinet-sized room smaller than a port-o-potty. How they managed that with a parachute backpack on is beyond me.

The team uses streamers to determine how the winds are behaving. They are lightweight paper attached to an aluminum rod, designed to fall at the same rate as the parachutes worn by the jumpers. Each jumper’s goal is to land on a small target about a foot in diameter for a “tip-toe” landing from as high as 12,500 feet. A team member throws the streamers out the door exactly over the target, and watches as they drift on their way down. If they drift one mile to the east, the team will aim to deploy their parachutes one mile to the west of the target so that the winds will naturally carry them right to it. Once they’re released, the aircraft banks into a continuous turn so that the streamers remain in sight. Even in banked turns, the jumpers crouch near the open door, carefully watching for the effects of the winds.

US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

After the streamer drop, the aircraft climbed a few thousand more feet and soon the first jumper of the day was ready to go. As quick as a blink, the jumper saluted, hopped sideways, and was immediately pulled away by the wind. He activated the smoke canister attached to his boot almost immediately to help the spectators on the ground below follow his fall. With that, the show was officially kicked off! We continued to climb and eventually lost sight of the jumper, but a circle of smoke was clearly visible over the airfield: it was Matt Younkin’s Beech-18 circling him during the National Anthem. Once he landed he took the microphone and began narrating the rest of the team’s performance.

US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

The temperature drops approximately 3-4 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet of altitude gained, meaning it was cold at 12,500 feet. On this particular June day in the mid-70’s, temperatures in the aircraft reached near or below freezing temperatures. The air is also noticeably thinner; I could feel myself taking deeper breaths than usual. Even with gloves on I began to breathe warm air onto my fingertips (although this was still nothing compared to the Michigan/Wisconsin winters I’ve grown used to). None of this seemed to phase any of the jumpers who would soon also face a 120 mph wind chill during free fall.

Above each door is a pair of lights: one red that reads “CAUTION” and one green that reads “DROP – JUMP”. Most of the flight featured a red light, but it changed to green as we neared the target on a hot run. The jumpers who weren’t sticking their heads out the door sat patiently in their seats just like us passengers. One Knight smiled at me and showed me his altimeter which read 12.5 (measured in thousands). Just like the first jumper, the remaining team members stood next to the door, gave a salute, jumped sideways, and were gone in the blink of an eye. We turned away to get ready for our descent and as I looked down at the airfield I saw four tiny dots with pink smoke trailing from them. I’ve watched many Golden Knights performances in the past but I’ve never looked down at them!

As we descended it got warm. Fast. We reached a point where the humidity hit us hard and fogged up all of our camera equipment. The warm and humid air was refreshing for a good five minutes, and then the winter coats we were wearing became quite uncomfortable. The jumpers obviously landed well before us and by the time we finished taxiing back the next airshow act was already in the air.

US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

This year the Golden Knights will be performing at 26 shows/events. I hope you will be able to witness at least one performance! I would like to thank the team and the Dayton Airshow for allowing me the opportunity to fly with them and witness their performance up close. And, as they announce at the conclusion of each performance; May your days be prosperous, and your nights Golden!