Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Air Force Academy parachute team takes national championship

By Carol McGraw Updated: January 7, 2014 at 12:43 pm

They certainly weren't winging it.

It took a lot of expertise for the Wings of Blue to win this year's National Collegiate Parachute Competition.

The Air Force Academy parachute team won 33 medals and the championship last week in Lake Wells, Fla., the academy announced in a release.

It's not a fluke. The team, which received the highest point total, has won the championship 34 times in 45 years.

Senior cadet Joseph M. Euhus won the "outstanding competitor award," the academy announced Monday. He received the gold medal in sport accuracy. It's the second year in a row the Wings of Blue have garnered that award.

Those on the four-way Euphoria team that also took gold in the top competition included Euhus, and cadets David Moore, Aron Spoorrer and Derek Dymek.

The Wings of Blue are best known locally for thrilling crowds by flying the American flag into football games.

But this is not all for show.

"It definitely gives then a leadership responsibility," Lt. Col. Sean McLay, told The Gazette recently. McLay commands the 98th Flying Squadron, which oversees the parachute programs.

Parachuting is part of the academy's training program. About 800 cadets participate in the parachute program their sophomore year, making five jumps to earn their wings.

Those that want to can move on to additional training, and become members of Wings of Blue and teach others.

It all started when a group of cadets in 1962 entered competition in Wisconsin and won a gold medal. They weren't sanctioned by the academy, according to wingsofblue.com. But within a couple of years a skydiving club was formed, and in 1967 a formal academy training program began.

These days the team performs annually to a combined audience of 12 million people.

If you watched the Buffalo Wild Wing Bowl in Tempe recently you would have seen them in action. If not, you have other chances. They are scheduled to perform 23 times nationwide in fiscal year 2014.

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Contact Carol McGraw: 636-0371. Twitter @mcgrawatgazette Facebook: Carol McGraw

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