U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachuting over Great Falls this weekend for Mission Over Malmstrom
The U.S. Army’s Golden Knights will parachute through the skies over Great Falls this weekend as part of the base’s Mission over Malmstrom Open House.
On Friday, the team did a practice run and took The Electric along for the ride.
The team of Army members consists of highly experienced skydivers who typically jump from about 12,500 feet.
Staff Sgt. Mitchell Stockenberg of Virginia is one of the newest members on the team and in his first year with the Golden Knights.
He proposed to his wife on a tandem jump and the couple fell in love with skydiving, he said.
Stockenberg was previously airborne infantry with the 82nd Airborne Division. Both the 82nd and the Golden Knights are based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
After proposing to his wife on a jump, Stockenberg said the couple started jumping regularly in 2016 and became licensed skydivers.
Around that time, he learned about the Golden Knights.
He decided that when he got back from an Iraq deployment, he was going to try out for the Golden Knights. In July 2018, he submitted his application and auditioned in September.
To join the Golden Knights parachute team, candidates must possess a clean military and civilian criminal or disciplinary record; have performed a minimum of 100 military or civilian free-fall jumps; must be static-line Airborne-qualified or willing to attend U.S. Army Airborne School; must submit your application packet for approval with your chain of command.
Only members of the Army are eligible to audition, but there have been some members who transferred from other military branches in order to tryout or decommissioned since only enlisted members are eligible for the team.
“I get to show off the Army,” Stockenberg said. “I get to do what I love and hope to inspire other people to do what I did.”
He said that interacting with the public while wearing the Golden Knights uniform right after parachuting in front of them is the most exciting and rewarding.
The younger crowd tends to love their show and have lots of questions.
“It’s really cool seeing how much they enjoy just simple act of touching a parachute,” Stockenberg said.
For each show, their safety and operating procedures remain the same, but the jumps are different based on environmental conditions.
Before each show they do what’s known as a “dirt dive” and walk through the entire show jump on the ground.
Stockenberg jumps regularly for fun with his wife and friends and many of the Golden Knights teammates also jump for fun outside of work around Fort Bragg, he said.
“We’re all very passionate about it,” he said.
This weekend, they’ll be jumping Saturday and Sunday morning at the open house with their full show jumps on both afternoons.
“Our performances are pretty unique,” he said. “We’re getting out of the plane and seeing what it’s like to experience flight and we hope the public will come out and experience flight with us.”