COLORADO SPRINGS – During the Air Force Academy football games at Falcon Stadium the United States Airforce Parachute Team makes quite an entrance, jumping into the stadium before each home game.
FOX21’s Lauren McDonald spent a day with the Daredevils and even suited up herself.
“We travel around the world doing various air shows and stadiums.
So we can go into football stadiums, baseball stadiums,” Senior Demonstrator Cadet 1st Class Luke Nimmo said. “We’re the airforce’s premier skydiving team spreading the good word. I went to the prep school here so I actually got to see the demo team jump out for the first time getting to see that, ya know USAFA brand underneath the parachute and I was like I have to do that.”
Making the team is no easy feat. The Academy’s Airmanship 490 Program is where it all starts for those interested in joining the Wings of Blue. It is a very selective process, only 27 people get selected to be on the team and then only 15 do demonstrations.
The Academy’s Basic Free Fall Parachuting Course is the only course in the world where cadets can take their first jump with no assistance. The entire program is cadet driven, designed to not only promote elite skydivers but also exceptional leaders.
“They work their butts off to get through their junior year where they go on demos as ground crew,” Squadron Superintendent MSG George Wild said. “They don’t get any of the glory and then all the glory comes their senior year so that’s where all the big accomplishment comes is they get to jump into every home game in front of all their friends landing on the 50 yard line, they get to go to all the air shows a lot of times to their home towns where they know friends and family.”
“I think in terms of like the shock and awe factor — jumping into a stadium ya know 75,000 plus people ya know watching every movement that’s absolutely wild,” Nimmo explained.
“As you start coming in you drop the flags you start hearing people cheering and then once you get to about 1,000 feet you can feel the pulse of like the stadium and once they can see that you notice them — I mean the whole arena just gets loud,” Wild added.
FOX21’s Lauren McDonald decided to take the leap with the team. They flew to 11,000 feet and freefell down to 6,000 feet then pulled the parachute to gracefully land. She had the privilege to jump with some of the world’s most elite.