Wings of Blue Descend on Lamar Airport

About 100 Feet to Go



Members of the Air Force Academy’s, Wings of Blue, parachute team made numerous practice jumps at the Southeast Colorado Regional Airport this past Thursday, October 22nd through the weekend. The airport has often been used by the Academy for practice flights by it’s glider team as well as its paratrooper students.

About 10 Feet to Go

Steve Archuleta, the Wings of Blue coach and manager of the US Air Force Academy’s parachute maintenance division, explained there were actually two teams on hand, Wings of Blue, the more accomplished paratroopers who also train undergraduates and the Wings of Green team who are less experienced jumpers.

Jump Plane Re-fueling

The primary mission of the Wings of Blue is to run the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Basic Freefall Parachuting course, known as Airmanship 490 (AM-490). The team serves primarily as jumpmasters and instructors, forging leaders of character through this unique training experience.

The Hike to the Hangar

The Wings of Blue has both a demonstration team and a competition team. The demonstration team travels across the country to airshows, sporting events, and other venues to represent the Air Force in precision parachuting. Similarly, the competition team represents the Air Force by competing with teams from around the country. Archuleta said the paratroopers this trip consist of twenty jumpers and 10 instructors.

The Wings of Green (WoG) is a one-year program which serves to train Air Force Academy cadets to become official members of the Wings of Blue. Out of more than 400 cadets who take AM-490, Basic Freefall, and earn their jump wings in the summer after their freshman year, a couple hundred usually try out for the Wings of Green. After an all-day tryout in the beginning of August, only 25 of these cadets are selected for the team.

Archuleta explained why Lamar, “We like to move to various jump sites and enjoy the Lamar area because of the open plains as well as the altitude which provides denser air so the parachutes are more maneuverable than at a higher altitude.” He said the students can jump as high as 12,500 feet, and at that level, have to use portable oxygen to sustain them. “We are also unique in our training program in that the students at that altitude free-fall for ten seconds before their chute deploys. No other military training program does that.” He added that the regimen the students go through is a definite plus for their future careers. “We’re training officers who will be military leaders and the course provides a unique level of confidence, team training and courage they will need as they move through the ranks.”

Archuleta thanked the airport managers, Tanya and Eric McSwan, for their support during the training exercise. “Eric McSwan served as a mechanic at the Academy for 17 years and we appreciate his and Tanya’s support,” he explained.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarCountyEnvironmentFeaturedSchool


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