Golden Knights return to YPG
The public will be treated to the aerial exploits of the Army's precision parachute team beginning today when the Golden Knights kick off their 31st year of winter training at Yuma Proving Ground.
Weather permitting, the Knights will parachute onto YPG's grassy Cox Field at approximately 3 p.m., said Sgt. Marie Shult, Knights' spokeswoman.
Then on Monday, the Knights will begin jumping at Cox Field at YPG's main post area at approximately 10 a.m., which is a little later than their usual 8 a.m. start time, Shult said.
After Monday, the training sessions will begin at 8 a.m. The Knights typically jump Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Their last training day at YPG will be on Feb. 27, Shult said.
As always, the training jumps depend on the wind and weather, Shult stressed.
YPG spokesman Chuck Wullenjohn said YPG will host more than 100 members of the North Carolina-based parachute team, each of whom will make an average of 300 jumps here. The training prepares the Knights for a nationwide schedule of exhibitions through the remainder of 2004.
"This is where they perfect the formations and precision jumping they will use at air shows and competitions throughout the year," Wullenjohn said.
The Knights began coming to YPG in the early 1970s, according to Wullenjohn's records. He said they like to train at YPG for the same reason that some of their biggest fans, winter visitors, come to the area - sunny skies.
"It's great weather for training," Wullenjohn said. "Back East, you have clouds, rain and inclement weather, plus competition for the drop zones. Here, they can do lots of jumps in a condensed period of training."
There is no admission charge to see the Knights jump, but the visitors will need passes to get onto Cox Field.
Visitor passes will be available from YPG security personnel at the Cox Field entrance by presenting driver's licenses, car registrations and proof of auto insurance. The passes must be renewed weekly.
Visitors should not arrive at Cox Field in large recreational vehicles, Wullenjohn said, because those vehicles will not clear concrete barriers at the entrance to the field.
For daily information on the team's training, call 328-6033.
Area teachers wishing to bring their students out need only call the YPG public affairs office at 328-6033 and leave their names and numbers. A member of the PAO will call the teachers with the necessary information to process the visit request.
Visitor passes also give visitors access to other YPG facilities, including the Heritage Center, which contains exhibits of the history of YPG and the Army.
The YPG Heritage Center, located next to the Knights drop zone, is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Admission is free.