04/26/09 — Knights kick off 2009 show; Mayor Al King accepts baton

View Archive

Knights kick off 2009 show; Mayor Al King accepts baton

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 26, 2009 2:00 AM

Full Size


Goldsboro's Mayor Al King receives a mahogany baton from members of the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team at the Wings Over Wayne air show Saturday.

Will McKnight looked skyward when a voice blared out of the tall speakers positioned across the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base flight line.

"Look. Look. Look," the 8-year-old said. "Dad. Look. We should do that sometime."

His father, Larry, was not quite convinced.

After all, his son's new role models were jumping out of an airplane.

And he is afraid of heights.

"Maybe when you're old enough you can take your mom," he said, looking over at his wife, Ann, with a smile.

"It's making my stomach turn just watching it," she replied. "What they are doing is crazy."

The Army Golden Knights officially kicked off the 2009 Wings Over Wayne air show and open house Saturday morning.

And they delivered on a promise made at their home base last week -- that their performance would leave the crowd wanting more.

The show opened with the team narrator, who landed on the flight line to the National Anthem -- an American flag waving just below his parachute.

"He hit the target," said Jamie Holland, a 7-year-old who was attending his first air show. "I can't believe it. He hit the target from way up there."

And then the others fell, some two by two, the rest in a group of four.

"Oh my gosh, he's flying" said 5-year-old Kellie Davidson, as another Golden Knight made his way to the ground. "He's flying, Mom. He's really flying."

"I know, baby," her mother, Caitlin, responded. "Isn't it amazing?"

Goldsboro Mayor Al King thought it was.

"They're awesome," he said. "I would never want to (skydive), don't plan to, but that's why I love these guys so much. I love people who do things I can't."

King was honored at the end of the show as the Knights' way of thanking the communities that surround Seymour Johnson.

He was given an eight-sided mahogany baton, a keepsake traditionally pas-sed to a member of a base community that makes sacrifices for the U.S. military -- in addition to his role as mayor of a military town, King is also a retired Air Force officer.

"This is one of the greatest honors I have ever received," he said. "I accept it on behalf of the citizens of Goldsboro, because how many people are going to get this opportunity -- especially on (the team's) 50th anniversary?"

The Golden Knights trace their lineage back to 1959, when Fort Bragg Gen. Joseph Stillwell formed the Strategic Army Corps Parachute Team to compete internationally, particularly head-to-head with the then-premiere teams from the Soviet bloc nations.

The team performed so well that Army adopted them as their official parachute demonstration team and changed the name to the United States Army Parachute Team.