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Demo Safety Camp with the Golden Knights
by Winsor Naugler III -

Demo safety has been an issue bandied back and forth of late, and various solutions have been proposed. The perennial solution of legislating safety seems to hinge on the idea that if you make enough rules people will screw up and obey one or two, thus averting disaster.
The Unites States Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights, in conjunction with Freefall Adventures at Cross Keys, NJ, has taken a different approach. For the last three days the Gold Team has worked with 15 of us to provide the benefit of their vast experience to the skydiving community.

Golden Knights Demo Training
Photo Courtesy of Joseph White               

Their approach to safety is both serious and realistic. They recognize the fundamental differences that exist between military team members and skilled drop zone regulars who might be invited to participate on demos, and they tailored their presentation to make the most of the commonality between the two communities. They were careful to point out where procedures made sense with issue gear, but might risk damage to personal equipment, for example.
The subjects covered were the fundamentals of demonstration parachuting, from soup to nuts, and safety was the primary consideration at every juncture. There was no class on "safety" per se, but every decision regarding equipment was primarily contingent upon safety considerations (at least that was my take).
Since this is the first time they have presented the course, much of their efforts were for course development. Each course will have to take weather into consideration, for example, so a great deal of creativity is required to maintain continuity in presentation while being flexible in scheduling practical exercises (there is much more to what they do than jump).
A lot of people talk about issues, but Cross Keys and the Golden Knights Gold Team really delivered above and beyond my expectations.
For any of you who are lucky enough to get the opportunity to participate in this course in the future, you should know it was the vision of John Eddowes and SFC Johnny Mulford that brought it into being. Without their tireless efforts it couldn't have gone from a pipe dream to a reality.
Dale Nelson was not only a host of the course, he was a participant.
In addition to SFC Mulford, the instructors included (alphabetically) Sergeants Chris Altman, Pedro Munoz, Bryan Schnell, Geno Suarez and Pete White. It says volumes about the US Army that they can attract and retain people of this caliber, who would excel anywhere they chose to be. In addition to being phenomenal parachutists, their skills as instructors are absolutely superb.
It was a pleasure to spend time among such pleasant guys with so much talent. Part of the job description is that they be genuinely nice people (no kidding), and they all qualify. I can't even pretend to be that nice.

More safety & training issues on pages  [1]  [2]  [3]  [4]

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