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    Army's Golden Knights Parachute Team Leaps Into South African Air Show

    Golden Knights Parachute Team leaps into South African Air Show

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Patricia Austin | A member of the Golden Knights Army Parachute Team lands during a demonstration jump...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Patricia Austin 

    New York National Guard

    PRETORIA, South Africa — Add South Africa to the list of places members of the Army’s Golden Knight’s parachute team has jumped.

    The Golden Knights Black Demonstration Team performed here during the African Aerospace & Defence Exposition,Sep. 17-21, 2014 at the invitation of the South African Government.

    The parachute team was part of a 100-strong United States military element lead by New York Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Anthony German, which included 15 members of the New York Army and Air National Guard, Airmen from Ramstein Air Force Base, and the U.S. Air Forces Europe Jazz Band.

    The New York National Guard has a bilateral partnership with the South African National Defence Force through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.

    The ten-member travel team spends more than 250 days out of the year traveling just to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, from about 12 thousand feet for events across the globe. This time a New York Air National Guard C-17 from the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, N.Y. provided their ride.

    “Most of us have done about 800 jumps each,” said Staff Sgt. Shelby Bixler, who has been on the team for about a year. “Being able to say that we jumped in South Africa is definitely cool.”

    She, along with her other teammates, were a big part of the U.S. presence at the expo which is hosted every two years and is comprised of nearly 60 civilian and military aircraft, vehicle, and safety equipment demonstrations. Flying and static displays from some of the biggest names in aviation and the defense industry were featured.

    The Army was also represented by a New York Army National Guard RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the 27th Brigade Special Troops Battalion in Rochester, New York.

    The Golden Knights kicked off the expo during the opening ceremony, and did another jump on the second day of the event. On the second jump South African Army Maj. Constant Benadé, a member of the Golden Eagles, South Africa’s parachute team, jumped with the Americans. He said he was impressed.

    “I’ve been jumping for more than 20 years, and so far my favorite jump has been with the U.S. Golden Knights,” the Pretoria resident said.

    “The air show isn’t just about showing off equipment capabilities. It’s the interaction between service members and an opportunity to strengthen the very positive relationships we have built,” said German, Chief of Staff for the New York Air National Guard.

    The team originally had five jumps scheduled for the week-long event, however high winds and inclement weather put a stop to two of the jumps.

    “It’s the way it goes for us,” said Staff Sgt. David Flynn, a native of Lawrenceville, Ga. “Sometimes we have to change a jump because of time constraints and sometimes we have to cancel them altogether; it just happens and you learn to roll with it.”

    “It was a wonderful experience for us,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Presgraves, the team leader for the Golden Knights. “We really enjoyed meeting our South African counterparts-they’re a really great team.”

    The U.S. Air Forces Europe Band’s jazz band, dubbed “Wings of Dixie” performed at the show and in engagements around local communities.



    Date Taken: 09.21.2014
    Date Posted: 09.25.2014 17:31
    Story ID: 143327
    Location: PRETORIA , ZA

    Web Views: 195
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    Army's Golden Knights Parachute Team Leaps Into South African Air Show