Over the weekend the U.S. Army's Golden Knights Parachute Team took to the skies and gave a dazzling performance in Manassas, Va.
Performing at the Wings, Wheels & Warriors Air Show on May 12, the Army's Golden Knights team was one of the highlights of the day. Jumping from a C-31A Friendship, the skydivers graced Northern Virginia skies.
Specialist Trey Martin was the first of the Golden Knights to jump. After his skydiving performance was completed, he took to the podium to introduce the team.
Specialist Martin provided commentary throughout the performance, explaining what the jumpers were doing and shared some history about the Army's Golden Knights.
Specialist Trey Martin, member of the U.S. Army's Golden Knights 2012 team
According to the Golden Knights' blog, the team was formed of 19 men in 1959 to compete and was based at Fort Bragg, N.C., the home of the Airborne. A media release by the U.S. Army, shared with Digital Journal, elaborates the team was formed of soldiers from various military units.
The original intent of the team was to compete during the Cold War, in a predominantly Soviet-lead sport. The Army notes the team "performed so well," that two years later it became an official team and, in 1962, was dubbed the "Golden Knights."
The Army skydivers have been performing at air shows and competitions ever since, greeting people at the shows. Each year the team meets one-third of the American public.
U.S. Army soldier approaches the audience after a May 12, 2012 performance of the Golden Knights
In addition to giving performances, the teams are also the "Official Ambassadors of the Army," and are involved with recruiting.
Digital Journal contacted the U.S. Army Parachute Team to learn more.
Donna Dixon, an Army spokesperson, explained to Digital Journal there are two Demonstration Teams, the Gold and the Black. The teams travel and perform at sporting events, air shows, openings, and school football games. These performances allow the public a chance to meet the soldiers.
The U.S. Army Parachute Team is also comprised of competition teams.
Dixon explains, "We have Competition teams that train to compete at National and International competitions representing the Army and the United States. We have a 8-way Freefall completion team, a 4-way all Ladies Team and a Swoop Team."
In more recent decades, high profile tandems have been added to the Army's performances. Some of the individuals who have jumped with the team include 41st President George H.W. Bush, Chuck Norris, Geraldo Rivera and Bill Murray.
“The Tandem Team enables the Army to reach out to influential citizens and give them a taste of the professionalism, leadership and teamwork that is involved in giving them a tandem,” said Lt. Colonel Joe Martin, U.S. Army Parachute Team, “Golden Knights.”
The audience at last weekend's event were given an impressive show as the soldiers from the Demonstration Team jumped from altitudes of 12,500 feet (3810 meters), falling at speeds in excess of 120 mph.
Soldiers greet the audience after the Golden Knights' performance at the Wings, Wheels & Warriors show in Manassas, Va.
The teams' schedules of future appearances are posted online. Next up in the Washington area, the Golden Knights will perform at the 2012 Andrews Air Show, which will take place at Andrews Air Force Base.
According to Dixon, there are about 200 shows per year, and at some shows, the teams give multiple performances.
The Army notes the teams' successes, which include both national and international recognitions, for over 50 years now, and are still going strong. In the past three years, the competition teams have earned 154 gold, 85 silver and 48 bronze medals.