Wings of Blue strike gold

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Melissa Waheibi
  • U.S. Air Force Academy
The U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue parachute competition team won gold medals in each skydiving event and received 31 out of 44 total medals at the National Collegiate Parachute Championship in Eloy, Ariz., recently.

The team competed in three events: style, accuracy and four-way. The style event is a race against the clock in which divers have to complete six maneuvers in the fastest time. Accuracy jumpers exit an aircraft from 4,500 feet and strive to land on a target the size of a quarter. In four-way, four jumpers complete as many pre-determined maneuvers as possible within 35 seconds.

Academy jumpers swept the style event at the "masters" experience level. Rob Ice received the gold while Jared Aranda took silver and Alex Datzman brought home the bronze. In the masters accuracy event, Ice captured gold again while Kristen Wozniak tied for the silver. The Wings of Blue hit it big in the four-way competition with its Blut Team winning gold and Silver Team taking silver.

The four-way Blue Team, consisting of Ice, Aranda, Dan Darnell and Pat Kennedy, broke a collegiate record by turning 21 maneuvers in 35 seconds, which bested the former record of 16 maneuvers in 35 seconds.

"We had high goals, and we met our expectations," said Tech. Sgt. Pat Atkin, parachute instructor for the 98th Flying Training Squadron. "The cadets truly showed their talent and dedication."

Ice took home a special gold medal for winning overall collegiate champion.

"This was my third year competing, and it's been a great time," said Ice.

While the competition team was winning big, the Wings of Blue demonstration team scattered across the country this holiday season to demonstrate their skills for more than 430,000 people with jumps into three stadiums hosting college bowl games.