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Photo Essay: Golden Knights Precision Landing from 12,500 feet

The Golden Knights are a demonstration parachute team of the United States Army. Members of the Black Team staged precision free-fall landings at the 2017 Milwaukee Air and Water Show on July 15 and 16, to a crowd of thousands along the lakefront.

As the result of a cancelled practice demonstration on July 14, the Milwaukee Independent was invited back on July 15 to photograph a live jump during the air show. For that run, weather conditions were perfect and the team made their jump at the preferred height of 12,500 feet.

Milwaukee is not known for its hot summers. The Golden Knights typically leave their plane in extreme cold and encounter the opposite at their landing site. For the entire flight, the team’s Fokker C-31A Troopship keeps its jump doors open. The only time they would be closed during a performance is for a flyby at speed after the team jumps.

Air temperature decreases by about 3.3° for every 1,000 feet in elevation. Therefore, with a 79° ground temperature in Milwaukee, the air was about 39° when the Golden Knights made their jump, along with a wind speed of more than one hundred miles per hour.

Images from the two flight days with the Golden Knights, along with a news article about their demonstrations at the Airshow event and video report of the team’s free-fall performance, can be found in the extended coverage.

  • Lee Matz
  • Sergeant Daniel Gerlach (Golden Knights - Black Demonstration Team)
  • Staff Sergeant Travis Downing (Golden Knights - Black Demonstration Team)
  • The United States Army Parachute Team
Produced by the Milwaukee Independent, with footage from:
  • Lee Matz
  • Staff Sergeant Travis Downing (Golden Knights - Black Demonstration Team)
  • The United States Army Parachute Team

About The Author

Lee Matz

Former Creative Director and Photojournalist for the Milwaukee Business Journal, Lee brings his years of international experience as a foreign correspondent in Asia and Europe, with a background in publishing, advertising, and design, to the Milwaukee Independent. His list of awards include three consecutive top honors from the Milwaukee Press Club. Lee proudly uses MCTS as his exclusive mode of transportation, other than walking, for all the news stories he reports about in Milwaukee.


  • wwwmilwaukeeindependentcom

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