Crowds flocked to the Coronado Golf Course on July 4 and were dazzled by the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, otherwise known as the “Leap Frogs,” as they jumped from a plane 10,000 feet above the island.
At 14:00, the crowd strained to see the faraway parachute team exit the aircraft and begin their descent.
The excitement on the ground was palpable as the Leap Frogs successively drew nearer, each aiming to land as close to the target on the grassy field below as possible.
The Leap Frogs demonstration was the mid-afternoon attraction for Coronado’s Independence Day celebration, which included a morning parade, afternoon and evening concerts and fireworks. More than 100,000 people were estimated to have come to the city, according to Coronado Fourth of July President Robert Kracht.
Once the majority of the team had landed safely and precisely, the final two jumpers floated down, each holding onto a corner of a red and white iteration of the Gadsden flag, the iconic coiled snake and “DONT [sic] TREAD ON ME” emblazoned on its face.
While the July 4 demonstration jump looked effortless, it was set in motion by planning and careful coordination.
“Each jump requires a lot of preparation and attention to detail. We analyze winds and all altitudes in order to calculate the release point for the desired target,” says Petty Officer 1st Class Cory Hager.
Freefall speeds of up to 160 miles per hour
With the Leap Frogs picking up freefall speeds of up to 160 miles per hour, precision is key.
And practice is really at the core of a successful flight, Hager said.
According to Hager, demonstration and operational jumping differ in nature.
When they’re not training, the Leap Frogs participate in “around 35 different events each year with varied numbers of jump locations. With training and the demonstration season each jumper performs about 500-700 skydives.”
Despite carrying out hundreds of skydives, when asked if he still feels a rush with each jump, Hager’s reply was simple yet enthusiastic: “Always.”