Golden Knights Skydiver Forced to Cut His Main Parachute During Air Show Jump

U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team conduct training jumps
Members of the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team conduct training jumps over Homestead, FL, March 6, 2024.( U.S. Army photo by Joseph Barker)

Few attending the 2024 Selfridge Open House & Air Show may have noticed, but a member of a parachute team that performed Sunday had a problem in mid-air and was forced to use his reserve chute.

That's the word from the U.S. Army Golden Knights, who said the skydiver flawlessly cut off his original parachute and used his reserve one to safely land. The team member was not injured in the mishap.

"The lines became entangled and (he) just didn't feel comfortable to him, so he cut those off, and used his reserve parachute to avoid a harder landing," said Joe Barker, a media director for the Golden Knights.

Barker said the second of two canopies inside a skydiving rig is called a reserve, a parachute that is used in the event of an emergency situation.

On Sunday afternoon, one of the 12 Golden Knights who jumped to the ground base felt something was amiss on his descent. He cut away the lines in time for the reserve parachute to fully open and allowed him to glide to the ground.

"These guys train extensively for these kinds of situations," Barker said. "I doubt anyone attending the show even realized what happened."

A team manning a Selfridge Fire Department rig was dispatched to a residential home near the base to pick up the faulty parachute, according to Penelope Carroll, a spokesperson for the 127th Wing stationed at the Harrison Township air base.

Last year, a member of the Golden Knights died from his injuries after officials said he had a "hard landing" during a routine training jump in Florida.

Officials identified the parachutist as Sgt. 1st Class Michael Ty Kettenhofen, who joined the U.S. Army Golden Knights in 2020. He had jumped more than 1,000 times.

The Golden Knights travel around the country and the world to show off how sophisticated and complex their parachute training is.

The biannual air show at Selfridge last weekend attracted thousands of people who attended to watch aerial demonstrations by The Thunderbirds and others, while taking in ground displays and participating in various activities.

In 2011, the public death of a wing walker at the Selfridge Air Show occurred because he attempted to transfer from a plane to a helicopter too early, according to federal officials.

The National Transportation Safety Board said stuntman Todd Green, 48, fell 150 feet to the ground during a performance because he let go of the airplane handle and "lunged with both hands for the helicopter skid" before the plane and helicopter were in position, according to a final report.


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