It all started in the spring of 1962 when a band of bootleg jumpers made their first parachute jumps as cadets. Using condemned survival, evasion, resistance and escape rigs and local aviation pilots, these cadets made several jumps in the Colorado area. During that spring, a few cadets, at their own risk and expense, made a number of demonstration and competition jumps to include their first collegiate-national appearance in Wisconsin, winning a gold medal.
The U.S. Air Force Academy Parachute Team Wings of Blue is scheduled to wow the crowd March 15 and 16 with their high-speed maneuvers in free fall as well as precision canopy flight during the “Lightning in the Desert” Open House and Air Show at Luke Air Force Base.
The primary mission of the Wings of Blue is to run the Air Force basic free-fall course, AM490. Members of the team serve primarily as jump masters and instructors for this course, devoting most of their time to teaching students about parachuting and training them to make unassisted freefall skydives.
AM490 is the only first-jump program in the world where students can make their first free-fall jump without assistance. The Wings of Blue makes roughly 19,000 jumps per year for AM490 and training, which results in approximately 700 jump wings being awarded annually.
The Wings of Blue demonstration team is composed of U.S. Air Force Academy cadet jumpers and 98th Flying Training Squadron staff members who perform globally on a regular basis. When the team is not teaching AM490, they are training for aerial demonstrations or parachuting competitions.
The Wings of Blue demonstration team performs at home Air Force football games, air shows throughout the nation, and other high-profile venues. Some of these include aircraft carriers, the Rose Bowl, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, NFL games, and MLB games.
In addition to demonstrations throughout the nation, the Wings of Blue have also appeared on the international scene performing in countries such as Chile, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The Wings of Blue hold the national record for the biggest collegiate formation – a formation comprised of 41 people.
The “Lightning in the Desert” Open House and Air Show is
9 a.m. till 6 p.m. March 15 and 16.
For more information, including performers and a list of prohibited items, visit www.luke.af.mil and click the open house graphic in the center of the page.
Courtesy of www.wingsofblue.com and 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs