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Photo essay: U.S. Army Parachute Team ‘Golden Knights’

Just 30 minutes from campus, the Homestead Air Reserve Base serves as the winter home to the U.S. Army Parachute Team: The Golden Knights. Founded in 1959, the Golden Knights travel across the nation, perform in freefall demonstrations and compete internationally. At the end of their season, the team travels to the Homestead Air Reserve Base to train and complete their Annual Certification Cycle. Photo Editor Jared Lennon had the opportunity to observe the team train and capture images of their process, from both in the air and on the ground.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

The front of the Winter Home of the U.S. Army Parachute Team is seen at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead, Florida on Feb. 6, 2020. The Golden Knights come to Homestead Air Reserve Base each year to conduct their annual certification cycle. This building houses the Rigger Shed and Tandem Team, with each of the two demonstration teams having their own.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Uniforms, parachute bags and helmets sit in a row before the day’s training begins on Feb. 6. Some members use GoPro cameras to capture a first-person view of their jumps, formations and landings.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

SFC Trey Gullick and SSG Michael Connors, of the USAPT Golden Knights’ Black and Gold teams respectively, stand on the shoulder of the runway waiting to enter the C147A (Dash 8) plane at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on March 7. The 208 members of the Golden Knights are separated into eight sections: the Black and Gold demonstrations teams, a tandem team, two competition teams, a select training team, an aviation detachment (Team Six) and the headquarters section.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Members of the Gold Demonstration Team walk toward and enter a C147A (Dash 8) plane on the runway at the Homestead Air Reserve Base on Feb. 20. The Dash 8 replaced the Fokker C-31A Troopship after 34 years of service.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Members of the Gold Demonstration Team perform their pre-jump ritual in the Dash 8 plane over the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 20. Each team has their own rituals they carry out in flight.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Members of the Gold Demonstration Team grin while going through gear checks prior to jumping out of a C147A (Dash 8) plane on Feb. 20. As a team, the Golden Knights prioritize safety and check each other’s equipment multiple times prior to jumping.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Two members of the Golden Knights Aviation Team, known as “Team 6,” maneuver a C147A (Dash 8) plane back to the runway at the Homestead Air Reserve Base on March 20, 2020. The Aviation Detachment utilizes a fleet of five aircraft: two C147A (Dash 8) and three DHC-6-400 Twin Otters.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

SSG Michael Connors, of the Gold Demonstration Team, poses next to the open door of a C147A (Dash 8) plane over Homestead on Feb. 20. SSG Connors has logged more than 400 freefall parachute jumps since his first in 2016.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

SSG Mitchell Stockenberg, of the Gold Demonstration Team, looks out of the open door of a C147A (Dash 8) plane over the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 20. SSG Stockenberg served as an Airborne Infantryman until he attended the Assessment and Selection Program for the United States Army Parachute Team in September of 2018 and was assigned to the Gold Demonstration Team.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

SFC Ryan O’Rourke, of the Black Demonstration Team, waits next to the door open door of a C147A (Dash 8) plane over Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on March 10. SFC O’Rourke serves as Assistant Team Leader of the Black Demonstration Team.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

SFC Jesse Robbins looks down to the ground out of the open door of a C147A (Dash 8) plane from an altitude of 8,000 feet over Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 20. Throughout training, the team jumps from various altitudes, up to approximately 14,000 feet.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

SFC Jesse Robbins and SSG Michael Connors, of the Gold Demonstration Team, give thumbs up to the rest of the team next to the open door of a C147A (Dash 8) plane over the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 20. Before being given a green light to jump, a ground team monitors altitude, cloud cover and winds to ensure optimal conditions for the team. This information is relayed to an on-board crew-chief, who shares this with the team.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

SFC Jesse Robbins indicates towards the ground below as SGT Jason Bauder hangs on to the side of a C147A (Dash 8) plane over Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 20. SGT Bauder serves as a Demonstration Parachutist and Cameraman for the Gold Demonstration Team.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Members of the USAPT’s Gold Demonstration Team perform a stack out, meaning the Golden Knights jump in rapid succession, over Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 20. A stack out allows for proper spacing between jumpers and enables them to demonstrate different formations safely.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

SFC Jesse Robbins, of the Gold Demonstration Team, parachutes down towards the landing zone at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 20. SFC Robbins is serving as a Alternate Team Leader of the Gold Demonstration Team.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

SGT Jonathan Pemberton, of the Black Demonstration Team, descends towards the landing zone while pulling a POW-MIA flag in tow at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 20. During demonstrations, the Golden Knights often utilize smoke grenades to increase visibility for the spectators below.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

SFC Brandan Parra, of the Gold Demonstration Team, prepares to land in the landing zone at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 20. SFC Parra is serving as the Team Leader of the Gold Demonstration Team.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Members of the Black Demonstration Team repack their parachutes after landing in the outfield of a baseball field within the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 6. Parachutes are repacked and used many times during a day of training.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Members of the Golden Knights stand in formation during the promotion of MSG Kevin Presgraves at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 20. MSG Presgraves has been with the Golden Knights since 2011 and joined the Headquarters section in 2017.

Photo credit: Jared Lennon

A parachute bag sits on a shelf inside of the USAPT Golden Knights’ winter home at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead on Feb. 6. The Golden Knights travel across the world, serving as ambassadors of the U.S. Army.

May 3, 2020

Reporters

Jared Lennon


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