Flying with the Navy Leap FrogsPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Awesome! That's the only way to describe my experience flying with the Navy Leap Frogs Tuesday morning.
I joined the 4-man Navy Parachute Team when they boarded a a C-130 with their sights set on Peoria Sports Complex. After numerous quick meetings with the Air Force on what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go and how they wanted to execute their plan, we strapped in for take-off.
A couple minutes into the flight the countdown began: "10 minutes 'til jump."
The Leap Frogs got up and gathered right in the middle of the plane to check the maps, discuss the plan again and give one final show of support. With their helmets on and their parachute straps checked , the back gate to the plane began to open.
"This is one of the most dangerous things we do," said Naval Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Justin Gonzales. "We take it seriously. We also train all year long to mitigate the danger involved."
A few of the jumpers walked to the edge of the gate to "test the waters" by sticking their heads out of the plane. That's when two of the Leap Frogs hung from the back of the plane letting out a smoke screen. A third ran right in the middle and did a back flip out of the plane, while the fourth spun toward the plane and managed to salute before free falling.
The four jumpers free fell for a while before pulling their chutes. As they glided through the Valley skies, each one of them had flags attached to their gear.
Within minutes all four jumpers hit their target, the Peoria Sports Complex.
Another successful jump for the Navy's elite parachute team.
Tuesday morning's training jump was part of Phoenix Navy Week, which runs through March 31. For more information about Navy Week events, visit www.navyweek.org/phoenix2012.