ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Dyess Big Country Air Fest featured performances from a variety of aircraft, showing off the best and greatest of America’s strike base. If you look closely, the U.S. Army parachute team ‘The Golden Knights’ made an appearance.
Dan Gerlach has been part of the team for eight years. He shared that as Golden Knights, they are soldiers first.
“To be able to do this and kind of be an ambassador of the army and represent the army in a good light to people all over the country, it’s an honor,” said Gerlach.
The team spends most of the year traveling to air shows and other events.
“There’s no other feeling like it. You can see everything around you for miles and miles. We’re on the road about 210 to 220 days in a year,” shared Gerlach.
Before they jump, SFC Devin Diaz, said there is a lot of preparation that goes on behind the scenes.
“We practice what we are doing in the air on the ground. Everybody knows where they’re going, including approaching the formation,” added Diaz.
The team even communicates while they’re in formation up in the air.
“For whatever reason we get out and we’re really far from the target and we’re long, we will throw an L if we’re short we will throw up a signal like this (c-shape),” said Diaz.
Sgt. Daniel McKeon said they are bonded as a team, so communication is what keeps them safe while flying.
“Everything we do, we do together, even when there’s just one jumper jumping. He’s going to send a spiral report that lets the team know or the jumpers know ‘Hey this spot was good everybody else can jump,'” McKeon explained.
To Gerlach, the best part of the job is interacting with the community.
“The jumping part is cool but the way I like to say it is that’s how I get to work ’cause once I land my jobs not done, I’m going out to the crowd, we’re going to the army recruiting tent,” shared Gerlach.
The entire Golden Knights team is around 100 people nationwide. At least 30,000 people were in attendance to view their performance at Dyess AFB.