During this years MCAS Airshow, I had an opportunity to take some shots of the world famous US Army Golden Knights Parachute team aboard their C-31A Friendship aircraft. It was a thrill and an honor to be be able to witness first hand the precision and ‘behind the scences’ action that goes into a mass formation jump.
Two teams, Black and Gold, travel across the United States performing aerial demonstrations for the public. We were lucky to see the Gold team in action at Miramar. The morning started off with light showers and there was a threat of canceling the jumps due to low clouds. Since safety is the Teams number one concern, and the cloud ceiling at 1,000 feet, it wasn’t looking good. But the Team continued with their ‘dirt dive’ (practice dive on the ground) and we waited for the clouds to part.
Maybe it was because it was my birthday, or maybe the parachute gods were smiling down on us, but whatever it was, the rain stopped and the clouds lifted. 2,000 feet and we had our minimum ceiling for jumping!
And off we went. Circle slowly to our jump altitude of 2,000 feet. This is the absolute minimum that the Golden Knights can safely jump at and still have time for their parachutes to open. Normally jumps are done from 12,000-15,000 feet and aerial maneuvers are demonstrated to the crowd below. But today, it’s just get out, and pop the chute. No room for mistakes. Clear your mind and concentrate.
As we climb to our jump altitude, Hal and SFC Meyers watch streamers that were just released to gauge wind conditions that will affect their jump into the landing zone.
Hal gives precise hand signals to the pilots to make the final adjustments so they are in the correct position for their jump.
And on the final pass, green light, chutes in hand, and off they go!
In addition to their normal show, the Golden Knights also perform an amazing night show, complete with pyrotechnics!
A special thanks to Sergeant First Class Khalida “Hal” Hendricks for all her help! And Happy Birthday to you once again. I’m still older by 1 day. 🙂
View pictures from my ride with the Golden Knights and the MCAS Miramar Airshow here.