Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival: Flying With the U.S. Army Golden Knights

By Carmelo Turdo
The Aero Experience flew two sorties with the U.S. Army Golden Knights Gold Team Sunday during the Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival in the Fokker C-31A Troopship s/n 85-1608. We were able to secure two flights due to the quick turnaround needed to stay on a compressed airshow schedule - one mass exit flight and another featuring several formations requiring a staggered exit plan.  The Gold Team members welcomed several members of the media and two active-duty U.S. Army soldiers as guests aboard their aircraft.  The team generously allowed us to accompany them on their preparatory drills on the ramp prior to the flights, and made sure that we were briefed and buckled in properly prior to each flight.  Due to the fact that the doors are open during the flight, those of us sitting in the last  place on the canvas seats near the doorways along each side of the aircraft were given two lap belts and tethers for our cameras.  

Flying in the Golden Knights' Troopship is a unique experience, and one that The Aero Experience Founder Carmelo Turdo could not pass up (our colleague, Leo Cachat, flew with the team on Friday).  Previously, he had flown with the Golden Knights at the last Whiteman AFB airshow, but the high winds prevented the team from jumping that day.  As the aircraft rose over the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport in a series of left climbing turns, the team gave directions to help the flight crew maintain position in relation to the target area on the ground.  As the aircraft steadily climbed to about 13,000 feet, the temperature quickly dropped, the oxygen saturation level decreased, and the wind increased through the doorways.  Winter coat, hat and gloves are recommended, even during the summer months.  The team members were wearing their insulated jump suites, gloves and helmets as standard uniform.  As we climbed to jump altitude, each team member rotated around the cabin, sitting down to chat briefly with the media members in between making position checks looking over the edge of the doorway untethered.   The return to the airport was another matter, with a series of left spirals that made for dramatic effect when seen through the cockpit windows from the position in the tail section! 

Dramatic photos were be taken through each door as the jumpers left the aircraft, smoke canisters on their feet and cameras on their helmets.  Thankfully, there were several opportunities to get the photos as they exited, some saluting as they left the aircraft.  They dropped out of sight surprisingly fast, so a burst setting is necessary to catch them before they disappear from view.  The rear doors were closed for the second approach back at the airport.  

It was a humbling experience to participate in the two Golden Knights sorties that day and to be a witness to the excellence demonstrated by members of the U.S. military services.  The team remained focused on preparing for a successful demonstration, yet they were attentive to the media visitors and looked out for our welfare as their own.  The Aero Experience is thankful for these opportunities to accompany the Golden Knights at Cape Girardeau, and we wish them safe travels throughout the coming year.

Flight One

Flight Two:

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