MOSES LAKE - A 12,500-foot climb above the Grant County International Airport, a free fall at more than 120 mph: the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights are set to put on an impressive display at the Moses Lake Air Show.
iFIBER ONE News boarded the Golden Knights C147A Dash 8 Thursday afternoon, getting an inside look as the team prepares for the air show on Friday and Saturday.
The Golden Knights are celebrating their 60th year in 2019. The teams serve as “ambassadors of the Army” and have performed more than 21,000 shows in all 50 states and 48 countries. Sgt. First Class Ryan O’Rourke, who served as narrator for Thursday’s demonstration, said the team trains year round.
“When we’re not on the road, when we’re not performing at air shows, we’re out at our drop zone trying to give the American public the next big thing,” O’Rourke said. “We’re exiting an aircraft at 12,500 feet and landing on a target the size of a dinner plate.”
O’Rourke, whose primary assignment with the Army is as an airborne infantryman, said being part of the Golden Knights has given him the opportunity to talk with the public about his time in the Army.
“After selection, I came here, really just wanted to bridge the gap between the Army and the American public, show everybody what we do,” he said. “We’re approachable, we’re not robots. I served nine years in the 75th Ranger Regiment and I was not able to talk about my job. Joining the Golden Knights, I was able to come out of my shell, if you will, and talk about my Army experiences. It’s just an amazing opportunity that the Army has given me to be able to do this.”
After taking off about 45 minutes before the jump time, a flight pattern is established and black and gold wind drift indicators are dropped before the climb to more than 12,000 feet, where the air was much cooler than the near 100 degrees on the ground.
After circling the drop zone multiple times, the first jumper exits the aircraft alone and serves as the narrator for the show upon landing. Two more circles and the rest of the team is quickly out of the plane, with their show usually consisting of four separate maneuvers before parachutes are deployed.
“Nice, beautiful, clear blue skies, very little clouds. A little bit windy but nothing we couldn’t handle,” O’Rourke said after the demonstration.
The Golden Knights are one of many acts that will take to the sky on Friday and Saturday for the first Moses Lake Air Show. Tickets for the show are available online at www.moseslakeairshow.com.