I've Got Skills: Parachute Team vs. Professional Base Jumper

See what tools and techniques elite Army skydivers have in common with a professional base jumper.
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My name is Matt Davidson. I'm a member of the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights. I'm army strong and I've got skills.

The Golden Knights is the Army's official parachute team. We're mainly here as a recruiting tool. Jump into football games and things like that. It's a thrill of new experiences. I can't imagine a life where I wouldn't have that kind of stimulation on a day-to-day basis. But it also allows me to spread the word about the army.

My name is Erik Roner. I'm a professional big mountain skier and BASE jumper and I've got skills. Skiing was something that I always loved. We'll do trips to Alaska in helicopters and we'll fly to un-skied peaks. You're skiing down big bases with rocks and jumping and all kinds of stuff like that. Along the way, I started skydiving and BASE jumping. I have sponsors that kind of pay me to go around and do these types of things and that's my primary job.

Erik: Hey guys, how's it going?

Matt: Hey Erik, how's it going? I'm Matt.

Erik: Matt? Good to meet you. So, uh, this is where the Golden Knights train, huh?

Matt: Yeah, this is where we train part of the time. We'll do some wind tunnel stuff here this morning, and then we'll take you out there and make some jumps.

Erik: Let's get in there.

Matt: Yeah, let's get geared up.

Erik: You know they're by the rules, they train, they practice. And for me, I'm just a big goofball. I thought they might've said "Who is this punk? Why we gotta deal with him today?", type thing and I never had that feeling at all.

They let me in there, get a little comfortable and taught me a couple of things and then went through a few drills. So I'm just trying to, you know, mentally keep up with them and keep up with their speed, you know? Instead of really slowing them down.

Matt: I was surprised by how quickly he caught on to, you know, some of the things that we we're doing.

Erik: We did some over and under type stuff. We went up high and spun around a bunch, and I learned a fair bit. I think they got a grasp of what I could and couldn't do for actual skydiving.

Matt: His approach to it is extremely entertaining, and uh, it looks like he has a lot of fun. We're gonna go out to Laurenbergh, where we train and we'll make P-jumps out there.

Erik: Yeah, see that's what I'm talking about. Once we got to the hangar and they found me a rig, got the suit on. I think I might've been one of the first kind of civilian guys to wear one of their army, you know, parachutes, so I was pretty honored. Right off the bat, we jumped out the exit, it went real great, and we started turning points right away. Before I even knew it, I'm like wow we're doing this.

Matt: In the air, we did one of the same jumps that we practiced in the wind tunnel. Erik came out and he was, he was rock solid, and went on for a great skydive.

Erik felt really good about jumping with us. He said before he even started skydiving, he heard of the Golden Knights. It was cool for me to be able to share that experience with him.

Erik: Yeah! Woooh.

Matt: Not bad for your first four-way.

Erik: Yeah, that was fun man.

Matt: That was nice. Some of the things that he does are skiing and snowboarding, BASE jumping. It would be real exciting to, you know, be a part of his world.

Erik: Matt, how's it going bud?

Matt: Good, how you doing?

Erik: Welcome to Twin Falls, Idaho. We got some lovely weather here with us.

Matt: Oh yes, beautiful.

Erik: What do you think of our bridge?

Matt: Man, that is incredible.

Erik: This is the only legal bridge in the states that you can jump 365 days a year. BASE jumping is an acronym for buildings, antenna, span, and earth. And those are basically four different types of objects you can jump off of. And in BASE jumping, you're basically just jumping a reserve parachute, so you're opening your parachute way lower than you do with a skydive. You know, there's no room for error. Unfortunately, I know we're not allowed to push you off that bridge today because of the constraints of the military.

Matt: I wasn't able to jump ,we have a centered operating procedure that keeps us from doing that. It's not business as usual for me. If I were to get injured, then I'd sidetrack, you know, what we we're doing for our mission.

Erik: Here comes Travis.

Matt: Travis Pastrana shows up. That was, that was a surprise.

Erik: Welcome to Twin buddy.

Travis: Thank you, why is it so cold here?

Matt: Hey Travis, how's it going?

Travis: How's it going?

Matt: Like a dream come true for me, being able to hang out with all these guys today.

Erik: Alright Matt, the one and only Travis showed up. Let's mosey out there.

Matt: Let's do it.

Travis: Yeah, let's have some fun, shall we?

Erik: Alright. Alright guys, I'll see ya.

Matt: Nice. Wow, that's crazy.

Erik: Wooh. Yeah, Matt.

Matt: Yeah!

Travis: So, I'm gonna go. 3-2-1. Hell yeah!

Erik: That'll wake you up!

Matt: Oh, that's great. Looks like he wasn't having any fun at all.

Travis: Woohoo!

Erik: Nice Trav! This whole experience has, you know, been a little more than what I expected it to be. I didn't expect to go down there and be so humbled and honored to jump with the Golden Knights, and have Matt come up here and see his emotion change when we get to jump and just kind of come full circle.

Matt: Coming into Erik's world and, you know, meeting the, the guys that he works with, you get this impression from, you know, watching some of the TV shows that that it's all just, you know, carefree and, you know, having fun, which a lot of it is, but there's also a lot of careful planning that is involved and, you know, to make all of it happen. And those are some of the similarities that we do with our work.