Wings of Blue wins gold

Air Force Academy cadets with the Air Force Wings of Blue Parachute Competition Team perform at the U.S. Parachuting Association’s national championships in Eloy, Ariz., Nov. 3. The “Air Force Intrepid” team took first place in the four-person intermediate free-flying event. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

Air Force Academy cadets with the Air Force Wings of Blue Parachute Competition Team perform at the U.S. Parachuting Association’s national championships in Eloy, Ariz., Nov. 3. The “Air Force Intrepid” team took first place in the four-person intermediate free-flying event. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Nov. 3 was a good day to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, as the Air Force Wings of Blue Parachute competition team can attest.

The squad's "Air Force Inception" team won first place in the intermediate artistic events free-flying competition at the U.S. Parachute Association's National Skydiving Championships in Eloy, Ariz., highlighting a string of good finishes by both Air Force Academy cadets and U.S. Army skydivers.

The judges for the free-fly event unanimously agreed that the cadets' performance was "far and beyond" that of their competitors, said James Hayhurst, USPA's director of competition.

"I was the master of ceremony for the awards (presentation), and I got to talk to some of the judges beforehand," said Hayhurst, a 1974 Academy graduate who jumped with the Wings of Blue while he was a cadet. "They said 'Inception' was clearly superior from first round to last."

The seven-judge panel gave Air Force Inception a score of 55.2 out of a possible 70. Scores are given based on both performers' and videographers' technical and presentation expertise.

Two other Wings of Blue teams, "Air Force Intrepid" and "Air Force Swag," competed in the four-way intermediate formation skydive. "Swag" placed fourth out of 25 teams, missing bronze by three points after 10 rounds of jumps. "Intrepid" tied for ninth. The Army's Golden Knights placed first of six teams in the 10-way formation skydiving event, and three Golden Knights teams placed among the top 10 in the open formation skydiving four-way event.

The Wings of Blue are scheduled to compete next in the USPA National Collegiate Parachuting Championships in Eloy Dec. 28, 2011, to Jan. 2, 2012. USPA is a non-profit based in Fredericksburg, Va., that seeks to encourage partnership among those interested in skydiving, promote safety in skydiving activities and cooperate with government agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration that are connected with skydiving.