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Wings of Blue wins big at national skydiving championship

Wings of Blue, the Air Force parachute team, won 19 medals at the U.S. Parachuting Association National Skydiving Championships in Eloy, Arizona, Oct. 22-31, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Wings of Blue, the Air Force parachute team, won 19 medals at the U.S. Parachuting Association National Skydiving Championships in Eloy, Arizona, Oct. 22-31, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Wings of Blue, the Air Force parachute team, won 19 medals at the U.S. Parachuting Association National Skydiving Championships in Eloy, Arizona, Oct. 22-31.

The team earned gold in the intermediate eight-way and advanced four-way formation skydiving competitions, and bronze in the intermediate competition.

Air Force also set a home record in the two-way mixed formation category by averaging six points for each of the competition's 10 rounds. 

"This was the best performance ever for the team," said Lt. Col. Anthony Mincer, commander of Air Education and Training Command's 98th Flying Training Squadron at the Air Force Academy. "I'm incredibly proud of the team. Their hard work during their training and their resilience during the competition demonstrates the character we produce in our future Air Force officers."

Team Smolder, the WOB four-way formation team, won the gold medal for the first time since 2012. Air Force Allegiance, the WOB four-way intermediate team, scored more points in one round than any of the 36 teams competing in the event.

"At the start of the competition, Allegiance was in seventh place, but they kept their poise and focus, slowly fighting their way back into the competition," Mincer said.

Allegiance tied for third place in the 10th round, forcing a jump-off. The team won by one point in the 11th round to take third place and the bronze medal. 

In formation skydiving, skydivers create "blocks" or "randoms" by grabbing the limbs of their teammates.

Randoms are single formations; skydivers must show full separation from each other before and after building the formation. Blocks are double formations consisting of movements skydivers must perform between two formations. A skydiver with a camera records the time it takes each team to build these formations. 

"This all occurs while the skydivers fall toward the Earth between 120 - 180 mph," Mincer said.

Next up for the WOB is the U.S. National Collegiate Championships, Dec. 28 in Lake Wales, Florida.

The WOB has demonstration and competition teams that travel across the U.S. to represent the Air Force.

Visit wingsofblue.com for more information.