TUNKHANNOCK TOWNSHIP, Pa — The inaugural Great Pocono Raceway Airshow blasted off this weekend, with many putting their eyes to the skies.
But few know the feeling of parachuting out of a plane.
For the U.S. Army Golden Knights, it’s just another day on the job. This time, they invited Newswatch 16 to come along.
“Any time you jump out of a plane, it feels like flying. But the amount of teamwork that goes into a jump like this, the amount of preparation that we do, you can see us out here you know, we’ve setting up the plane for over an hour here just this morning. So a lot goes on behind the scenes into just one jump,” explained Sargent Jason Bauder, who has jumped with the Golden Knights over 2,500 times.
After the plane has been inspected, the jumpsuits checked, and the parachutes packed, the Golden Knights practice a dirt dive, or a ground run, of formations before the jump.
“We got to focus on what needs to get done, we gotta focus on what exact position we need to be in, what job we need to perform up in the sky to ensure that the crowd on the ground gets the best possible show,” said Staff Sargent Houston Creech.
Creech has jumped with the Golden Knights over 600 times and says while they want to put on a good performance, it’s also about spreading awareness for the Army.
“Here in this job, we get to get out there and interact with the crowd, let them know what the army’s like, let them know what the army has to offer, and show them honestly that army soldiers are not like what they see in Hollywood. They’re not robots, they’re human beings, and that’s the best part for me,” explained Creech.
Normally the Golden Knights jump from 12,500 feet in the air, but flight restrictions around Pocono Raceway had them jumping at 8,000 feet.
After taking off from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre International Airport, we fly nearly 40 miles southeast to the Tricky Triangle.
The Golden Knights toss streamers to mark the target below, and we make a few laps before the first parachuter, Specialist Skylar Romberg, steps out and into the open air.
Soon the others follow, making the eight thousand foot descent into Pocono Raceway in around two minutes. Below, the crowd cheers as they parachute in.
“That was amazing. That really takes some guts to just be free-falling from the sky like that!” exclaimed Stephanie Bradford of Lake Ariel.
Bradford told Newswatch 16 the Great Pocono Raceway Air Show was the first she’d ever been to, and she brought her daughter and mother with her. They were both impressed with the Golden Knights’ performance.
“I can’t imagine doing anything like that ever in my life. Ever. Even when I was a teenager, you know it was amazing,” said Ingrid Weiner, Bradford’s mother.
And as impressive as it was below, it was even more so from the top.