Spanish parachute patrol coming to Lauderdale Air Show
Just days after learning the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds would pass on the upcoming Lauderdale Air Show, organizers announced a different military airborne act would be dropping in: Spanish air force sky divers.
The Patrulla Acrobatica Paracaidista del Ejercito del Aire, or the Parachute Acrobatic Patrol of the Spanish Air Force, will show off their sky diving chops at the show on Fort Lauderdale Beach on April 20 and 21.
"They do some great stuff," said show president Bryan Lilley. "I understand from all accounts it's spectacular."
Friday, the U.S. Air Force announced budget cuts from the government's economic sequestration had grounded the Thunderbirds, its precision jet aerobatic squad. The team has curtailed its 2013 schedule starting April 1.
But Lilley said the Thunderbirds may fly again if the government stabilizes its finances. "I'm hopeful," he said. "A lot of it is going to depend in the next couple of weeks on what Congress does or doesn't do."
Organizers' efforts to land the Spanish sky diving team began a year ago, when Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll designated the air show as a signature event of Viva Florida 500, a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Spanish discovery of Florida. Carroll and other politicians interceded with the Spanish government in landing the sky diving team.
"This is the first time the Spanish Air Force has had a demo team over here in close to a decade," Lilley said.
The parachute patrol has won more than 60 trophies since its inception in 1978. They specialize in precision formations, including one in which a jumper swings around two others, chute upended.
"You've got an inflated parachute canopy that's upside down," said Lilley.
Two other sky diving teams, the U.S. Army Silver Wings and the Lucas Oil Parachute Team, also will perform at the show.