In December of 1985, the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, leased two F-27-400M Friendship aircraft from the Dutch aeronautical firm, Fokker. The two planes were to replace the team's aging fleet of YC-7A Caribou, which had served the Knights' airlift needs for more than 10 years. A short time later the Army purchased the two aircraft from Fokker and redesignated them as the C-31A "Troopship."
The two planes are primarily used to provide the Golden Knights with safe and economical travel to more than 300 different demonstration sites annually. While at these sites, the C-31A serves as the team's jump platform, carrying the men and women of the Golden Knights to altitudes as high as 2 1/2 miles above the show site where they begin performing the precision freefall maneuvers and formations that have become trademarks of the team. During many of the Golden Knight's shows, once the jumpers have exited the C-31A, it will descend and perform a low altitude, high speed fly-by demonstrating the maneuverability and versatility of the aircraft.
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