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)
Cadet 1st Class Josh LeMair, a member of the Air Force Wings of Blue Parachute Competition Team, nails a classic accuracy jump in the U.S. Parachute Association's National Collegiate Parachuting Championships, which were held in Eloy, Ariz., from Dec. 30, 2010, to Jan. 1, 2011. Wings of Blue teams won gold in four-way open formation skydiving, two-way vertical formation skydiving, intermediate and masters sport accuracy, intermediate and masters classic accuracy and team classic accuracy. (Courtesy photo/Niklas Daniel)
1/5/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy's Wings of Blue parachute team won the 2011 National Collegiate Parachuting Championships.
The competition was held Dec. 28 through Jan. 1, in Eloy, Ariz.
The Wings of Blue took home 43 medals from the competition - 21 gold, 15 silver and seven bronze.
Collegiate parachutists compete in several categories in this competition, which include four- and six-person freefall aerobatics, and landing accuracy, and have several skill levels in each of these categories. For freefall aerobatics, the cadets receive points for the number of aerobatic formations they successfully execute during 45 seconds of freefall. For accuracy, event judges count the first part of a parachutist's body to touch the ground, and measure the distance from the ground target in centimeters.
In addition to the Wings of Blue's overall team victory, several cadets took top honors in the following categories:
* Top Competitor - Cadet 1st Class Shawn Johnson
* 6-way Speed Formation - 1st and 2nd
* 4-Way Open - 1st
* 4-way Advanced - 1st and 2nd
* Vertical Formation - 1st and 2nd
* Team Accuracy - 1st and 3rd
* Classic Accuracy Masters - 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
The cadets' performances were strong enough to set six new national records and seven new Arizona state records.
The Air Force Academy makes more than 20,000 parachute jumps per year, and trains about 700 cadets in basic freefall parachuting annually.
Cadet parachuting at the Academy began in 1963 when interested cadets formed a recreational club. The basic Academy course evolved from that original club into today's program. The objectives of the parachute program are threefold: train cadets in basic free-fall parachuting, represent the Academy at competitions and demonstrations, and provide a leadership laboratory and motivational experience for cadets.