Paratroopers took to the skies near URI on Saturday August 1, for the Rhode Island National Guard’s annual Leapfest competition.
2015 is the 32nd annual Leapfest and featured teams from from The Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Italy, The Republic of South Africa, the United Kingdom as well as teams from all over the United States.
Since 1982, Leapfest has been the largest, longest standing, international static-line parachute training event and competition.Each team consists of 5 participants: 4 jumpers and 1 alternate jumper. Jumpers exit from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at an altitude of 1500 feet (457 meters) using an MC-6 static line, steerable, parabolic parachute. They attempt to land as close as possible to one of three "X"s marked on the drop zone. Once the paratrooper lands on the ground, their time starts and it only ceases when the jumper touches the "X". The team with the lowest combined time wins the competition. This is both an individual and team event as jumpers compete for fastest individual and team times. Each jumper must complete 2 jumps to be qualified for the individual award, and each team must complete 8 jumps in total to be qualified for the team award.
Jumpers were carried aloft in CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The CH-47s orbit the drop zone, about a mile away from the loading zone, where the 4 jumpers would jump and land in the athletic field, and race to one of several orange "X"s. The CH-47 circle around again and drop another 4.
Myself and others from the media flew near the Chinook in a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter enabling us to capture air-to-air photographs.
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters© 2015 Philip Giordano Air-to-air photo of troops making the jump© 2015 Philip Giordano Air-to-air photo of troops making the jump© 2015 Philip Giordano Air-to-air photo of troops making the jump© 2015 Philip Giordano
We were also escorted onto the field of the landing zone to capture the action as the paratroopers landed and raced to the orange X's.
The view from the ground as troops jump© 2015 Philip Giordano Up close in the drop zone as jumpers race to the "X"© 2015 Philip Giordano Up close in the drop zone as jumpers race to the "X"© 2015 Philip Giordano Up close in the drop zone as jumpers race to the "X"© 2015 Philip Giordano
Results from this year's event can be found on the Leapfest site.
Huge thanks and shout out to the Rhode Island National Guard for organizing and hosting this event - awesome job!