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Army Parachute Team welcomes new plane

By USAMEB Public Affairs U.S. Army Marketing and Engagement Brigade

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The U.S. Army Parachute Team (USAPT), also known as the Golden Knights, welcomed a second C-147A aircraft on Oct. 16, highlighting efforts to improve safety, readiness and reduce operating costs for the Army’s official parachute demonstration team. 

C-147A is the military designation for the DeHavilland DHC-8, 315 Series. The aircraft replaces the Fokker C-31A which had reached the end of its life cycle and was expensive to maintain due to limited availability of replacement parts.  The USAPT has used the Fokker 31-A as its primary jump platform since 1985 and it has been the only operational plane of its type in the United States since 2014. 

“The C-31A proved itself to be one of the most rugged and reliable aircraft ever built,” said Ken Breeden, USAPT pilot and aviation maintenance officer. “The controls and long wingspan give the airplane a smooth and forgiving feel that is greatly admired for those fortunate enough to have flown these well designed airplanes.”

The cost to acquire and field the new plane was $16 million. The second C-147A will reduce the expense, storage and logistics that will be required to maintain spare parts, subscription services and ground support equipment and special tools for three dissimilar aircraft.  PEO Fixed Winged officials estimate the retirement of the C-31A will generate enough savings to pay for the second C-147A in roughly seven years.

The C-147A boasts improved safety and reliability in support of the Golden Knights, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  The Golden Knights engage the public at air shows and demonstrations to tell the Army story.  The USAPT helps audiences understand the breadth and depth of the Army team; what the Army does for the Nation; how the Army is different from the other services; and the unique value the Army brings to the Nation.

The USAPT is assigned to the US Army Marketing and Engagement Brigade at Fort Knox, KY which is part of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.  The USAMEB also includes the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the U.S. Army Accessions Mission Support Battalion based with the brigade headquarters at Fort Knox, Kentucky.