TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WHNT) – If you were in Tuscaloosa Saturday just before the start of the Alabama-Mississippi State game, you saw something pretty breathtaking.
USSOCOM’s Parachute Demonstration Team performed its first ever jump at Bryant-Denny Stadium from more than one thousand feet up. They hit their mark perfectly, landing at the center of the field.
But… how about seeing the skydive from the other perspective? One of the guys wore a GoPro camera! Watch the YouTube video above.
Around 1:55, you can hear the roar of the crowd as they watch the skydivers approach. No matter which team you support, watching this is pretty exhilarating!
The moment meant even more to the Para-Commandos' team leader, Huntsville native Lieutenant Colonel Keith Walter.
"This was special for me because I've been an Alabama fan my entire life, so getting to come back to Alabama was absolutely awesome," said Walter.
The Huntsville High grad coordinates all of the Para-Commandos jumps.
The group puts on about 50 shows annually to help promote the United States Special Operations Command and its more than 67,000 troops.
"Our job is to go out and educate the public and be the public face of SOCOM and let them see what their military does for them," said Walter.
The prep work the Para-Commandos complete prior to jumps is extensive.
"The public sees about a three to five minute performance, but hours and hours go into that, not even talking about all the training that goes into it, but the meetings with the staff and then preparing of our equipment and moving from Tampa to here and then back to Tampa," said Walter.
On game day alone, the team walked the stadium to identify hazards, then traveled to Tuscaloosa Regional Airport to board a plane and take off.
Once in the air, the Para-Commandos check the wind speed about a half hour prior to the jump. Then they circle the stadium and wait for the call from the ground that they're clear to jump.
"From the game clock, we had eighteen minutes to fifteen minutes on the window to put all three jumpers down, so that was our time constraints for the Alabama jump," said Walter. "So they had to jump out before then to make sure they landed during that three minute period."
The Para-Commandos are also scheduled to make jumps at four bowl games this football season, including their third straight appearance at the Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field.