SHELTON, Wash. — The U.S. Army Golden Knights returned to western Washington for the first time since the pandemic canceled their appearance at Seafair in 2020, and this time they took some local school teachers with them.
Several educators joined the Army Golden Knights 12,500 feet in the air to go skydiving. The Golden Knights are an elite parachute team who compete and perform all across the country.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Audrey Bellows, an English teacher at Winlock High School. "I'm terrified but anything that I can do to bring back more knowledge to my kids, I'm going to do it."
"I'm mostly excited, a little bit nervous because I am jumping out of an airplane," said Bethany Hudson, who also teaches English at Winlock.
Sergeant First Class Ryan Reese was helping with the jumps Wednesday and said he was thrilled to be back in his hometown taking local educators up in the air.
"To get the chance to do this hometown back yard is awesome," Sgt. Reese said. "Tacoma, Washington, born and raised."
Tandem jumping with teachers is different than what the Golden Knights usually do, which involves performing orchestrated aerial maneuvers. Reese said he takes pride in keeping all jumpers comfortable.
"We take a great deal of pride in ensuring not only our passenger enjoys it but is comfortable throughout it," he said. "As comfortable as they can be while they're hurtling through the air at 120 miles an hour."
Bellows and Hudson were scared initially to jump out of an airplane but said they were excited to have the opportunity to do something that inspired their students.
"We had a rough year as teachers but the kids had it tougher so we are excited to do anything that inspires the kids," Hudson said. "I am excited to get back to the school year this coming fall because it's going to be so much more normal for our kids, I'm really excited to be able to share the opportunity with students."