Monday, March 12, 2012

Leap Frogs Jump Start 2012 Season at El Centro Air Show

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Luke Eastman, U.S. Navy Parachute Team Public Affairs

EL CENTRO, Calif. (NNS) -- Almost 50,000 spectators watched the U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, perform during Naval Air Facility El Centro Air Show, March 9 and 10.

The Leap Frogs, composed of parachuting experts from Naval Special Warfare, performed three demonstrations; a night jump at the pre-show event and two daytime jumps during the air show.

The team used colored smoke and pyrotechnics to help spectators spot the jumpers from a jump altitude of 6,500 feet above show center. The jump aircraft was a C-2A Greyhound aircraft from "the Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30. Members of the Leap Frogs flew an American flag, a POW/MIA flag and a huge Navy SEAL Trident flag during their performance, Mrch 10. The Trident is the insignia worn by Navy SEALs after graduating from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training.

"I think it's wonderful [to have the Leap Frogs perform]," said Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, commander, Navy Region Southwest. “The performance last night was stunning. It just remphasizes that the United States Navy is out there executing the mission and we've got some really talented Sailors."

The Leap Frogs presented a signed, framed photograph of the team to Capt. Devon Jones, commanding officer of Naval Air Facility El Centro.

"We're very patriotic in the defense of our country," said Jones. "When [the Leap Frogs] come down with the American flag it sets the tone and the atmosphere. The public is just always tremendously impressed and amazed by folks jumping out of airplanes and making precision landings."

Spectators clapped and cheered as the Leap Frogs performed a series of maneuvers known as canopy relative work, including a drag plane. During the drag plane, three jumpers linked together in the air with one jumper turned completely upside down.

El Centro Air Show was the Leap Frogs' first performance in a busy 2012 schedule, said Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Brad Woodard.

"It's a great way to kick off the show season," said Woodard, the team chief. "We're just coming out of a rigorous winter-training cycle, so being here in El Centro makes all that hard work pay off. I'm looking forward to traveling around the country with the team and showing Americans just part of what Naval Special Warfare operators do."

El Centro Air Show is the first of 35 major events on the Leap Frogs' schedule this year. The team is based in San Diego and performs aerial parachute demonstrations across America in support of Naval Special Warfare and Navy recruiting.