The United States Army Parachute Team, nicknamed "The Golden Knights", is the U.S. Army’s official aerial demonstration team. The Team travels around the United States, performing parachute demonstrations at air shows, major league football and baseball games, and special events, connecting the Army with the American people. This is the first time-ever that the Golden Knights will perform at Thunder Over Utah.
The Golden Knights have two different demonstration teams, the Gold and the Black. The Gold team led by SFC Dustin Peregrin will perform at this year's Thunder Over Utah.
The Team originated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the airborne in 1959. At the time, the Russians dominated the relatively new sport of skydiving, and were unbeatable at the international competitions. Thirteen intrepid airborne Soldiers saw an opportunity to beat the Soviets at their own game...and began practicing to meet the world as the first U.S. military parachute team. Success came quickly, as the Team began bringing home gold medals and winning the hearts of the American public.
The fledgling Team’s mission was to assist in the development of modern parachuting techniques, to provide world-class competition parachutists, and to perform live aerial demonstrations in support of Army public relations and recruiting. In 1961, the Team adopted their nickname, "The Golden Knights."
Over the past 50 years, the Team has grown to more than 90 people, including jumpers, pilots, administrators, parachute technicians, and media relations and supply specialists. The demonstration teams perform more than 100 demonstrations a year with the help of the Team’s four dedicated aircraft. The Tandem section takes Soldiers and VIPs on tandem skydives, and the Competition section continues to win at several national and international competitions per year.
The Golden Knights have used a C-31A as their jump platform since 1985, accumulating more than 27,000 hours of flying time. The C-31A is a militarized version of the Fokker-27 MK400 Friendship. The crew consists of two pilots and a flight engineer. The airplane is capable of pressurized operation up to 25,000 feet at 230 knots. The militarized C-31A is modified with two large air-operable jump doors which slide rearward and out of view to facilitate up to 25 parachutists. The airplane has provided safe and reliable service for the Military, Airlines and Cargo operators worldwide since the 1960s. The C-31A is powered by two Rolls Royce Turbine engines capable of developing 2,080 horsepower each. Both of the Golden Knights aircraft have been recently upgraded with GPS, Moving Map Technology, Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems, Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems, Satellite Weather Uplink and Lightning Detection Equipment.