Wings of Blue places in Collegiate National Championships

  • Published
  • By Ray Bowden
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue Parachute teams were busy training, competing and taking part in a variety of parachute demonstrations across the country during the holiday season.

"In just 17 days, we completed more than 1,600 jumps, dominated the advanced divisions of the U.S. Parachuting Association Collegiate Nationals and, over the course of four demonstrations, performed before 175,000 live viewers and millions of television viewers," said Lt. Col. Anthony Mincer, the 98th Flying Training Squadron commander.

The Wings of Blue competition team competed in the U.S. Parachute Association's Collegiate National Championships in Eloy, Ariz., Dec. 28-Jan. 2, earning 27 medals, including gold and silver in the Four-Way Formation Skydiving Competition, gold and bronze in the Six-Way Speed Formation Competition, and silver and bronze in the Two-Way Vertical Formation Skydiving Competition.

Cadet 2nd Class Jasper Arneberg, a Wings of Blue instructor assigned to Cadet Squadron 5, made eight jumps during the competition, filming the Academy skydivers during the event.

"One of the greatest events during the competition was when our junior skydivers tied with our senior skydivers at the end of the sixth and final round of the Four-Way Formation Skydiving Competition," he said. "The seniors won in a seventh round jump-off, but there was lots of tension in the air. It was a great moment."

The competition showcased the quality of Academy Airmanship training, Arneberg said.

"We have more resources than any other college and we make the best of those resources," he said. "We're always grateful for any training opportunity."

A Wings of Blue demonstration team performed during the Cactus Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., Jan. 2, while a training contingent of more than 80 Academy jumpers took part in annual winter training Dec. 18-24 at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., completing 1,547 jumps.

Academy demonstration teams also performed at the Patriot All-America Golf Tournament Dec. 28 in Litchfield Park, Ariz., and at the Orange Bowl Dec. 31 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

"The jump into the opening ceremonies at the golf tournament was perfect and, at the Orange Bowl, nearly 70,000 fans watched our team bring in the game ball, each teams' flag and the U.S. flag," Mincer said.

Another demonstration team performed at the Famous Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, Dec. 20 Mincer said.

"The Wings of Blue is all about leadership and we learn from every competition and event," Arneberg said. "Any chance to jump is a great training opportunity and just an awesome time."

The Wings of Blue is part of the Academy's Airmanship Programs, which includes Airmanship 490, the basic freefall course and Airmanship 491, in which 25 elite cadets selected from a pool of about 250 hone their parachuting skills and upgrade to jumpmaster status.

The program includes Airmanship 496, in which 50 Wings of Blue members are placed on a demonstration team and a competition team to represent the Air Force and the Academy at various annual national events, including air shows and Bowl games.

"I could not be more proud of our Wings of Blue performances," said Col. Steven Burgh, the 306th Flying Training Group commander.  "Our Airmanship Programs here play a pivotal role in teaching cadets leadership skills and enhancing their decision-making abilities - all characteristics we expect in these up-and-coming officers. Our team's performances and teamwork during the holidays is a prime indicator our cadets are up to the challenge of serving their country with pride and determination."