Take Off With The Army Golden Knight Team

Take Off With The Army Golden Knight Team

By Liz Dorland. CREATED Aug 26, 2011

Bellevue, NE -- This weekend hundreds of people will pack Offutt Air Base to enjoy the Defenders of Freedom Air Show.  One of the big headline performers is the U.S. Army Golden Knights.  Not many people know how much work goes into preparing to jump out of a plane. KMTV Action 3 News' Liz Dorland suited up to find out.

Friday's practice jump is just a typical day at the job for a group of soldiers with the Army Golden Knights.   "Right now we're just packing up our flags," explains Staff Sargent Brandie Phillips. 

Staff Sgt. Phillips is one of several who are checking fasteners on valuable parachutes and carefully packing them into backpacks. The smoke canisters are tightened while the plane is checked over.  Once everything is approved for the performance we're loaded onto the plane.

"Welcome to golden knight air my name is Staff Sargent Sanborn!"  SSG Howard Sanborn delegates orders to the passengers, including not getting out of our seat.  After ear plugs are handed out, passengers are securely strapped into their seats we take off.

While in the air the team checks each others gear again before settling in for the ride. 
"Why do this? Look outside, doesn't it just look fun to you?" says Staff Sargent Noah Watts.

SSG Watts calls his job awesome because the show is not like any other people can see.  "A lot of people only see you know movies or video games referencing the military so this is a way for us to bridge that gap between civilians and military and let the American people know what kind of capabilities your armed forces have," says SSG Watts.

SSG Howard Sanborn drops markers from about 3,000 feet off the ground.  The blue and yellow streamers tell both the pilot and ground crew what way the wind is blowing.  It's critical information the team needs to know where to jump.  At 12,500 feet the team gets the green light meaning it's go time!

SSG Sanborn is first out the door, he brings in the American Flag.   For Fort Calhoun native SSG Phillips this weekend means the world to her because it's her last time performing with the team before deploying to Germany. "It's kind of nice to have your hometown be your final ho-rah on the team," explains the Ft. Calhoun native.

After handshakes all around SSG Phillips and the rest of the team step outside the plane.  They're gone.  "Being able to represent all the soldiers who are deployed over seas and fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan right now because obviously they're not able be in front of the public or talk to the public and display the Army message but we are," says SSG Phillips.

The Defenders of Freedom Air Show is going on Saturday and Sunday and admission is free. It all starts at 9 in the morning and ends at 5 pm both days.

Reported By: Liz Dorland, ldorland@action3news.com