Is it Time to End Aerial Demonstrations as a Recruiting Tool for the Armed Services?

Sadly, Army Golden Knight parachute team member Sgt. First Class Corey Hood, 32, of Cincinnati, Ohio tragically lost his life one day after being injured while performing at the Chicago Air and Water Show on August 15, 2015. Sergeant Hood was attempting to do a stunt called the “bomb blast” and upon release of the formation he collided with a member of the Navy’s elite parachuting team, the ‘Leap Frogs’. The collision rendered him unconscious and witnesses said he clipped a building on his decent also. This leads us to the question of whether it’s time to put an end to these types of aerial demonstrations at events across the country.

The military services routinely use such things as the Army Golden Knights, Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbird demonstration teams to help with recruiting and to show off the prowess of each branch of the military. One seriously has to wonder whether these dangerous demonstrations are worth the risks that come along with them. Sergeant Hood was a highly decorated 14 year Army veteran who served his country proudly and now leaves behind his wife. The veteran soldier had over 500 jumps under his belt and that only highlights the fact as to just how dangerous these aerial demonstrations can be; if it can happen to someone who is that experienced, it can happen to anyone.

A look at the history of the Golden Knights demonstration team shows that this is far from an isolated incident. The first fatality involving a demonstration team member at a show happened in Corpus Christi, TX, on June 20, 1970; Staff Sergeant Arnie Arrellano was the team member who died during the performance that day. Another team member, Tom “TJ” Johnson, died while doing a performance during a show in Fredericksburg, VA on June 15, 1980.

Army ParachuteSome people may think that losing three soldiers to something as dangerous as parachuting demonstrations would not seem out of the ordinary in the program’s 54 year history, but if you look closer there are definitely more issues that raise an eyebrow. On March 8, 1973, the C-47 aircraft that was transporting the team to a demonstration in Overland, KS crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 14 of the Golden Knight’s team members aboard. Another accident happened on September 24, 1961 when a short take off version of the teams C-123 transport aircraft crashed on takeoff at an airshow at the New Hanover County Airport in Wilmington, NC; the teams photographer and two members of the flight crew lost their lives as well as several of the jumpers themselves sustaining major injuries. At least four more members have been killed during training.

The other service’s demonstration teams are not without their share of incidents either. The Navy’s Blue Angel’s flight demonstration team has suffered almost 50 incidents in airshows and practice that have resulted in over 24 deaths to the pilots that were involved in those incidents. The Air Force Thunderbirds have been involved in 5 airshow incidents and 13 practice incidents since their inception in 1953, many of which have involved fatalities; the worst of the incidents occurred on January 18, 1982 when 4 pilots lost their lives practicing a maneuver at Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, Nevada (miraculously, it was the last fatality suffered by the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team).

The performances put on by these military members are truly exhilarating to watch, but the military needs to seriously start considering that the price these demonstration team members sometimes pay may be far too high for the benefit the armed services receives from these displays.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Craig Smith

Craig has been writing for several years but just recently made freelance writing a full time profession after leaving behind 26 years working in the swimming pool construction industry. He served four years in the US Air Force as an Imagery Interpreter Specialist in Okinawa, Japan and at SAC Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. As a staunch supporter of law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firemen, search and rescue personnel and those who serve in the military, Craig is proud to contribute to the US Patriot blog on their behalf.
Craig Smith

3 thoughts on “Is it Time to End Aerial Demonstrations as a Recruiting Tool for the Armed Services?

  1. Dude stop being a *****. We all volunteer for our jobs and we can get wasted in a stunt show or in combat, whatever God chooses for us. Leave well enough alone and let us do what we do.

  2. I was at the site in Corpus Christi in 1968 when Arnie Arrellano fell to his death. Got the date wrong. Sorry.

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