Wings Of Blue Demo Team Set For Several Major Skydiving
Most college students are still sleeping at 5 a.m. Some might be
getting up to cram for an exam. At the same time, some students at
the nearby US Air Force Academy are preparing for an adrenaline
rush only a few people can ever dream about.
They are the men and women of the academy’s "Wings of
Blue" parachute demonstration team.
Tech. Sgt. Jason Tepool, noncommissioned officer in charge of
the team, has been an instructor at the academy for 15 months. In
the past 17 years he has accumulated more than 12,000 jumps.
But before academy cadets step out of an airplane, they must
first step into the aerospace physiology altitude chamber here, he
"We have to make sure the cadets can perform at the altitudes we
jump at," Sergeant Tepool said. "We have a couple of instructors
who go down to Peterson to help out with cadet training and
sometimes with the Army troops from Fort Carson who certify here.
We don't want anyone getting hurt."
Sergeant Tepool said once they get past the chamber, it is off
to jump school and opportunities to perform in front of millions of
"We did our first jump Sept. 3 into Qwest Field up in Seattle
for the academy's first [football] game," Sergeant Tepool said.
"This year we'll be jumping into the Insight, Fiesta and Rose Bowl
The jumpmaster said being in the spotlight is great, but he
likes to work things on a smaller scale.
"I really like when we get to jump into high school football
games," Sergeant Tepool said. "What a great recruiting tool. The
cadets get a chance to talk with students and tell them what
academy life is like."
It was that same kind of event and wanting to follow in her
father's footsteps that motivated Cadet 1st Class Jennifer Evans to
join the Air Force and pursue her goal of being a member of the
"My father was a pilot and used to jump," Cadet Evans said. "I
heard about the Wings of Blue when I was in high school and decided
that is what I wanted to do."
Sergeant Tepool said making the team is not easy. Only 25 out of
an average of 200 applicants make the cut each year. These freshman
and sophomores make up the team of hopefuls, affectionately called
the "Wings of Green."
"There are 25 juniors and 25 seniors who make up the Wings of
Blue," Sergeant Tepool said. "They are the ones responsible for
training the lower classmen. It builds teamwork and our most
important focus, character development and airmanship."
With so many cadets wanting to learn how to jump, one of the
most important functions is to maintain the parachutes.
Steve Archuletta, parachute loft superintendent, said the loft
has nine riggers, and they keep 500 chutes online at once.
"It's a lot of work," Archuletta said. "We have a lot of
experience here between our civilian and military people. One of
our most experienced guys, Bonz Alteri, is a former Golden
With every stitch checked and automatic activation devices
calibrated, the Wings of Blue will board the plane with
Sergeant Tepool said they look forward to new challenges and
So, perhaps one day, another little boy or girl may look to the
sky and say, "That's what I want to do."