Imagine freefalling several thousand feet from the air, feeling the rush of adrenaline kicking in before deploying your parachute, then sailing for a few minutes before landing into a stadium filled with several thousand cheering fans.
Seven members of the U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue demonstration team had the opportunity to demonstrate their parachuting skills at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Dec. 28, 2013, at Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
“For the BWW Bowl we exited the plane three seconds apart, opening our parachutes at different altitudes,” said Cadet Sam Griner, 98th Flying Training Squadron Air Force parachute team member. “We each carried various flags such as the Arizona State flag, flags representing the teams, the ESPN flag as well as the American flag and more.”
Being a part of the parachute team is similar to joining a club at the Air Force Academy.
“Most of the team is made up of cadets at the academy, who had to go through the Air Force basic freefall course AM490 in order to be eligible to try out for the parachute team,” Griner said.
Once students complete the AM490 program, about 200 then try out to be a part of the team.
“They look for people who can serve as good representatives of the Air Force and also those who are not only teachable, but also can instruct,” Griner said.
Members of the parachute team participate in several high profile events such as the Air Force football games, various air shows throughout the nation, the Rose Bowl, NFL games, and major league baseball games.
For Cadet Ayana Cameron, 98th FTS Air Force parachute team member, being able to jump is something to be thankful for.
“While I’m freefalling, it reminds me to be grateful for life,” Cameron said. “It’s so beautiful and peaceful. Being able to jump really built up my confidence because every time you jump, you are saving your own life because you’re self reliant while in the air. It’s awesome.”
During their time in Arizona, Wings of Blue team members also visited the Phoenix Children’s Hospital to give back to their biggest fans.
“We love to go out there and give back to the community because not only are they our main supporters, but it’s really awesome to be around the people we are performing for,” Cameron said. “We actually jumped with the teddy bears before giving them to the children at the hospital.”