CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Wings Over South Texas show was cancelled Saturday because of bad weather, but the show will go on Sunday featuring the Leap Frogs, a group of members in the Navy that parachute.
The Leap Frogs began in 1969 when military members started voluntarily performing at air shows. They were officially named the “Leap Frogs” in 1974. Now they travel all around the country performing.
They go up into the air to at least six-thousand feet.
Nick Fajardo, 28, has been a part of the Leap Frogs for two years, and said it’s a display of Navy excellence.
“We really drill ourselves to be good at what we do…we’re you know a professional demonstration team and you’re going to see a lot of us with flags…you’re going to see some two stack and three stack work where basically three guys will jump out of the plane…full their parachutes and ram that parachute into the guy in front of him and build a formation up there,” Fajardo said.
Fajardo said he started skydiving before he joined the military at 18, saying his first experience went by so fast, he kind of forgot everything.
“It was such an amazing experience but I had no idea what was going on when I left the plane until I opened my parachute and as soon as that opened…it was just the best feeling in the world…like being able to leave the plane…look around. You’re jumping from anywhere from 12 to 13 thousand feet and looking down at the ground and not a lot of people get to experience that,” he said.
Training for the Leap Frogs lasts three months. Working in the wind tunnel and learning how to use a parachute are a few of the things they do to prepare, but since they are part of the Navy, members are already trained to free fall.
Leap Frog Nick Ray said he grew up being afraid of heights, but he’s gotten used to them.
“So when that door opened you know…it was kind of like the moment like 'oh man how did I get here in my life at this point?' But I will say the military Navy is good at making people get over their fears and now parachuting is a passion for me. Never would have done it if I didn’t join,” Ray said.
The team has about two to three canopies, but has gone up to seven canopies in a formation, free falling for around 50 seconds before deploying parachutes at about three to five-thousand feet. They have about two to three minutes before they reach the ground.
Leap Frog George Monteverdi said he’s gotten over the initial nerves and is motivated to perform well in front of his peers.
“We also have like the peer pressure of everyone else in the aircraft that’s our peers…you know their eyes are on us and we don’t want to fail in their presence right….or ever,” Monteverdi said.
Team members join for three years before having to go back to a deployable unit.
The Leap Frogs will perform in the Buc Days’ Wings Over South Texas show Sunday where they will be displaying the American flag during the National Anthem.