The United States Army Parachute Team, nicknamed and commonly known as the Golden Knights, is a demonstration and competition parachute team of the United States Army. It consists of demonstration and competition Parachutist teams, drawn from all branches of the Army. Members must demonstrate excellence in parachuting.
The two Golden Knight demonstration teams travel the United States(and occasionally overseas)performing for public audiences at venues ranging from relatively small civic events, to nationally and internationally televised events (such as Monday Night Football games, NASCAR races and large International airshows). The two, 12-member teams travel approximately 240 days per calendar year, and use the team’s two Fokker C-31A Troopship jump aircraft as their primary means of transportation, and sometimes the UV-18C Twin Otter Series 400 made by Viking.
There are two demonstration teams, dubbed the Gold Team and Black Team, in reference to the official Army colors. Team members come from a variety of backgrounds in one of the 150 jobs available in the US Army. Each team has a team leader, who typically has the most time and experience performing demonstration jumps and typically holds the rank of an Army Sergeant First Class (SFC).
The 24 demonstrator positions on the team are typically held for at least three consecutive years. At the end of their tenure, soldiers will then either rotate back to Army line units or they may request to stay with the team for an additional period in one of several specialty positions. These positions are usually reserved for tandem parachute instructors, videographers, team leaders and competition parachutists.
The demonstration teams perform several types of shows; each is performed to exacting standards of practice but can also be tailored to the specific venue. These shows range from jumpers exiting the aircraft and landing in a major-league stadium, to more involved 20 or 30 minute aerial displays. The Mass Exit show consists of multiple jumpers exiting the aircraft and forming a geometric shape, often with smoke canisters employed for additional crowd effect. The 30 minute Full Show consists of several aircraft passes or “jump runs”; with each pass consisting of one or more jumpers exiting and then performing exciting and somewhat unusual parachuting maneuvers. Once safely on the ground, the jumpers traditionally perform a ground line-up, in which each jumper is introduced and then the team will usually present a team memento to a distinguished selectee from the show audience.