Black Daggers prepare for local air show
The 2018 Airshow of the Cascades is still six months away, but air show organizers are already hard at work booking the entertainment.
New to the air show, set for Aug. 24-25, will be the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team — the Black Daggers — which consists entirely of volunteers from throughout the Army special operations community.
The volunteers, who have diverse backgrounds and possess various military specialties, represent the professionalism and dedication of Special Operations Forces as they perform aerial demonstrations in support of U.S. Army Special Operations Command community outreach and recruiting efforts.
The U.S. Army Special Operations Command, better known as USASOC, activated Dec. 1, 1989, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. USASOC is the Army component of U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The command is 28,000 strong, including special forces, civil affairs, rangers, psychological operations, signal and support, and Army special operations aviation soldiers.
For almost three-quarters of a century, highly-trained groups of soldiers have been inserted behind enemy lines to disrupt the movement of enemy troops and supplies to the front lines. Those brave soldiers have frequently used parachutes as a means to infiltrate without being detected.
Although most of the airborne forces of the world still use round parachutes, some specialized units use the ram-air canopy as their primary means of infiltration.
The Black Daggers use the military variant of the ram-air parachute, which allows a free-fall parachutist the ability to jump with more than 100 pounds of additional equipment attached. In addition to the extra weight, the jumper must also withstand high winds, frigid temperatures and low oxygen levels, all of which require the jumper to be highly skilled.
When exiting the aircraft, normally from an altitude of 12,500 feet, the jumpers free fall for about two miles at approximately 120 miles per hour. They maneuver their bodies using their hands, arms, legs and shoulders to control their flight. The parachutes used by the USASOC team are flexible wing gliders.
The Black Daggers' mission is to perform live aerial demonstrations in support of U.S. Army Special Operations Command community relations and recruiting.
For more information about the 2018 Airshow of the Cascades, visit www.cascadeairshow.com.