Golden Knight Para-Trooping Veterans Star in Duluth Airshow

By KBJR News 1

September 22, 2012 Updated Sep 22, 2012 at 10:39 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northalnd's NewsCenter) --- The 2012 Duluth Airshow kicked off in Duluth, Saturday.

While a head cold kept Duluth Mayor Don Ness from gracing the skies with the US Army's Golden Knights Parachute Team, nothing was going to keep these seasoned para-trooping veterans from putting on a show.

It's an impressive feat, no doubt, but only part of the big picture that has helped make the 20-12 Duluth Air Show one to remember

What does it take to be a paratrooper for the Golden Knights?

Dedication, preparation, confidence, and a little bit of a crazy streak.

"The first push, y'know," Daniel Gadacz, of Pierz MN said. "Someone's got to push me at least, then I'd do it. You've got to be an adrenaline junkie to [do] that."

And, whether it was for the rush, the aerobatics, the food, or just a chance to take in the sights and sounds of a gravity-defying Marine Harrier jump jet, tens of thousands of people from all walks of life were packed into the 2012 Duluth Air Show on Saturday.

While you don't have to have any particular qualifications to be an air show enthusiast, many event-goers did have their fair share of military background.

"I'm an ex-military Royal Air Force Pilot, and I've come to this wonderful air show to see if the young bloods are still able to carry on the fine tradition of aviators all over the world," Dick Bardon said.

Pilot Dick Bardon, a Gulf War Veteran, says the air show is exceeding his expectation, and is also a perfect chance to catch up with family.

"I've come to see my relatives, who happen to live [on] this fine island-oh, I'm sorry, continent," he said.

It's the international appeal the air show has that has kept this year's Board of Directors working their volunteers around the clock, setting up kiosks, seating, and even helping park their fare share of cars.

"I've been helping park cars," Jeffrey Studenski said. "So later on I'll be helping get some cars out of here when everybody tries to leave, and then tomorrow morning [I'll be] back at 7:30, parking more cars. It's got to be in the thousands at this point."

It's a massive effort that UMD student and volunteer Studenski says wouldn't be possible with the hundreds of helping hands.

"I've seen volunteers in areas I didn't even know that there was volunteers, so I don't think an event like this could happen without the volunteer help," Studenski said.

It's a work load that won't end until hours after the last plane touches down for the weekend.

Billy Wagness