THUNDER REPLAY: Navy Leap Frogs
"The guys that you're gonna see jump out of these airplanes today are not your average bear," aviation expert Rob Givens said. "I mean, they are incredibly physically fit, very dedicated, with sharp mental focus to be able to do their job.
The United States Navy Parachute Team is known as the Leap Frogs. It’s an all-volunteer team of active-duty personnel.
The team is made up of 15 Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman and support personnel. Each member is assigned to the group for a three year tour. After their tour is finished, members return to operational Sea, Air, Land Teams or Special Boat Squadrons.
Rob Givens, aviation expert for WDRB News, explained their mission.
"It's kind of interesting," Givens said. "This is a U.S. Navy parachute team, right? So you wouldn't normally think U.S. Navy and paratroopers. And these guys are Seals, right? So they're special warfare folks -- they're commandos -- and they come out to demonstrate the skills and proficiency it takes for them to be able to put jumpers into anywhere on the earth. So they're a great team -- a great group of guys -- and it will be interesting to watch them jump."
"The guys that you're gonna see jump out of these airplanes today are not your average bear," Givens said. "I mean, they are incredibly physically fit, very dedicated, with sharp mental focus to be able to do their job. They get screened -- I think it's like 1 percent of all the people that really try to go be a Seal really become a Seal. So it's a really selective group of people."
A typical demonstration starts with a streamer pass to give jumpers an idea about the wind speed and direction. A jumper may preform what’s called an “early burn” by activating a smoke grenade attached to a foot bracket. This indicates the jumpers are getting ready to exit the aircraft. The team then exits the aircraft. Many jumpers often activate smoke grenades during free-fall to make it easier for spectators to see them at 12,500 feet above ground.
Each member then deploys a distinctive blue and gold parachute at a different altitude to create vertical separation for a safe opening. Once under the canopy, the jumpers maneuver toward each other to create various formations. Some jumpers also deploy a flag and the last jumper to land typically trails an American flag.
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