Wings of Blue takes several top slots at national parachuting event
By Ray Bowden and John Van Winkle, U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
/ Published January 15, 2016
U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy's parachute team, Wings of Blue, won 26 medals at the National Collegiate Parachuting Championships in Lake Wales Florida, Dec. 29 - Jan. 2.
Jumpers competed in two- and- four-way formation skydiving, two-way vertical formation skydiving, six-way speed formation, and landing accuracy competitions, in one of three divisions: the open/masters division, the advanced/intermediate division; and a novice division for beginners.
"Air Force and Army shattered longstanding records," said Lt. Col. Anthony Mincer, commander of Air Education and Training Command's 98th Flying Training Squadron.
Air Force and Army dominated the two- and-four- way formation skydiving and two-way vertical formation skydiving competitions, where jumpers build multiple mid-air formations in 35-50 seconds before opening their parachutes.
In the master's class of landing accuracy, Cadet 1st Class Joseph Gerner and Army cadet Jordon Komm tied with a perfect score after four rounds. Gerner scored a fifth center to win the jump-off and later set a new collegiate sport accuracy record by hitting the exact center of the target seven times in a row.
Air Force took second and third places in the two-way vertical formation skydiving, where jumpers fall at speeds in excess of 180 mph.
Air Force's Smolder team continued their success at the collegiate nationals by winning the four-way open category by averaging 19.76 points each jump. The team won last year's U.S. Parachuting Association Nationals in the four-way advanced category.
In six-way speed formation, six jumpers create a pre-drawn mid-air formation as quickly as they can. The clock starts when the first jumper leaves the aircraft. Air Force set a new National Record with an incredible time of 5.26 crushing the previous record of 7.52 set in 2012.
"The comradery and support between (Air Force and Army) teams could not be higher," Mincer said. "They are both poised for greater success in the future and for exciting showdowns as we saw in this competition."
Cadet 1st Class Lance Dutton won the gold medal in the four-way competition, silver in the six way competition and bronze in the sports accuracy competition. Cadet 2nd Class Luke Brown took the bronze medal in the intermediate category.
Wings of Green jumpers Cadet 3rd Class Joseph Wilde took the gold medal and Cadet 3rd Class Chandler Beachy took the silver medal in the novice division. The Wings of Green is the Wings of Blue upgrade team.
One hundred-and-one skydivers from 16 colleges and universities competed in the championship.
Dutton has been selected to command the Wings of Blue competition team, Mincer said.