After three months of planning, six hours in the Mighty UV-18B Twin Otter, and a night in Oklahoma, we arrived in Houston for one of our most highly anticipated demonstrations thus far. It was a night jump into Robertson Stadium for the Thursday night rivalry between the University of Houston and their cross-town opponents at Rice University. From the airport, we went straight to the stadium to survey our new landing zone. We talked altitudes, patterns, and procedures until there were no more questions to be asked. We knew exactly what we were going to do, and set out to execute the practice run the following morning. Morning haze restricted our altitude to 3000 feet AGL for the practice and we hopped out into a beautiful and refreshingly humid sky. Jumper after jumper touched down on the football field and we walked away from the morning’s jump with the utmost confidence.
That night, the six of us boarded the Otter and circled the night sky above Robertson Stadium and the neighboring Houston skyline. There’s no feeling quite like performing in front of 40,000 people, but we all felt it on that flight. As the stadium filled further and further, we performed our pre-jump rituals and awaited the green light. As it flicked on, we leapt into the dark sky to land between the lights below. The jump went as well as it could have gone, with all jumpers on their feet within 10 yards of the target. The crowd welcomed us to Houston with roars, and we couldn’t have been happier to meet them in the stands.
The next day, we flew over to Randolph Air Force Base for their annual Air Show. Our fellow demo cadets took another Twin Otter down from Colorado to meet us there. We met in full force and prepared to perform at our highest caliber for the upcoming weekend’s expo. We graced the night skies again on Friday, landing at show center as the sun disappeared behind the horizon. We were scheduled for two jumps on Saturday and two on Sunday. We opened each morning with an American Flag jump, descending to the sound of our National Anthem. Minutes behind the flag, eleven smoke-trailing jumpers opened up and descended in front of the crowd, slapping hands and signing autographs on their way back to the vans. The afternoon jumps included exits two miles above the crowd, smoke trails, and jumpers speeding towards the Earth at speeds in excess of 230 miles per hour. The crowd was enthralled, asking wide-eyed questions as we packed our parachutes among them. Kids had a blast learning how to roll the parachutes just right, knowing that we would use their handy work on our next jumps. Overall, the Wings of Blue Demonstration Team had a blast in Texas. The crowd was extremely supportive and we felt welcome everywhere we went. On behalf of the Wings of Blue, I would like to extend my gratitude for the opportunity to come perform down in the Lone star State; it was an experience like none other.