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Photos: Behind the scenes with the US Army Golden Knights

Staff sgt. Dan Cook, a member of the US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team, prepares his parachute before performing at Arctic Thunder 2012. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Staff sgt. Dan Cook, a member of the US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team, prepares his parachute before performing at Arctic Thunder 2012. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Member of the US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team pack a parachute after performing at Arctic Thunder 2012. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Parachutes, helmets and colored smoke devices layed out in an army Sherpa airplane before the Golden Knights performance on July 29, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
An altimeter, worn by each parachuter in the Golden Knights team. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The Golden Knights create smoke trails using two M-18 smoke grenades, attached to their feet. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Each parachuter wears a helmet, although it is primarily useful only within the airplane. It would not protect the jumper in the case of a parachute failure. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Sgt Timothy O'Neal rehearses his commentary for the Golden Knight's performance. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Members of the US Army's Golden Knights parachute team look over photos from the previous day's performance. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The Golden Knights warm up before their performance on July 29, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The Golden Knights rehearse their routine before their performance at Arctic Thunder 2012. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The Golden Knights preparing to for their performance at Arctic Thunder 2012. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Members of the Golden Knights suit up before performing at Arctic Thunder 2012. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The US Army's Golden Knights parachute team prepares to take off in a C-23 Sherpa. July 29, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Members of the Golden Knights parachute team jump out of a C-23 Sherpa during Arctic Thunder 2012. July 29, 2012
Courtesy Staff Sgt. Matthew Winstead, USARAK
Staff Sgt. Dan Cook does a backflip as he exits a C-23 Sherpa during a performance at Arctic Thunder 2012. July 29, 2012
Courtesy Staff Sgt. Matthew Winstead, USARAK
Staff Sgt. Dan Cook of the Golden Knights in freefall above Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on July 28, 2012.
Courtesy US Army Golden Knights
The US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team perform at Arctic Thunder 2012, held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. July 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team perform at Arctic Thunder 2012, held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. July 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Even JBER police stopped what they were doing to watch the Army's Golden Knights perform during Arctic Thunder 2012. July 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Staff Sgt. Dan Cook of the Golden Knights skydiving above Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on July 28, 2012.
Courtesy US Army Golden Knights
The US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team perform at Arctic Thunder 2012, held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. July 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team perform at Arctic Thunder 2012, held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. July 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team perform at Arctic Thunder 2012, held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. July 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team perform at Arctic Thunder 2012, held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. July 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team perform at Arctic Thunder 2012, held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. July 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team perform at Arctic Thunder 2012, held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. July 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The US Army's Golden Knights black demonstration team perform at Arctic Thunder 2012, held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. July 28, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

The Golden Knights are the U.S. Army's elite skydivers. Their roots trace back to 1959, when the Army tired of Soviet domination in skydiving competitions. Since then the Golden Knights have distinguished themselves with thousands of competition awards and hundreds of skydiving world records.

The Golden Knights have two demonstration teams, Black and Gold; the Black team performed at this year's Arctic Thunder Air Show 2012. Flying on a C-23 Sherpa to 12,500' above Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, the team wowed the crowd with a variety of precision maneuvers.

While most Golden Knights have active duty combat experience, their involvement with the parachute team is mainly for public relations and recruiting purposes.

Team members come from a variety of Army backgrounds, from infantrymen to cooks, according to team member Dan Cook. New members are accepted each fall during an evaluation period, and those accepted are expected to stay at least four years, in order to pay back the intensive training.

Be sure to check out our exclusive helmet-cam video of the Golden Knights performing at Arctic Thunder 2012.