The Herald Bulletin

January 2, 2014

Highland grad ready to parachute into Orange Bowl

By Randy Rendfeld
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — ANDERSON — As a parachute descends into the Orange Bowl in Miami, a member of the Highland High School Class of 2010 will land on the field.

Taylor Scott, cadet first class, will be accompanied today by other members of the Parachute Team Wings of Blue from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

After graduation from Highland, Scott reported for basic cadet training at Colorado Springs in 2010. In the summer of 2011, he took a summer course at the academy called Airmanship 490, which is part of a basic parachuting program.

"I had no prior experience," he said. "But after about 30 hours of ground training, I made my first skydive. From there, I tried out for the parachute team at the academy and was lucky enough to make it."

He spent his sophomore year learning how to skydive and how to teach the program from which he'd graduated the previous year. Then he became a member of the Wings of Blue.

"We are the official parachute team for the entire Air Force," he said, "And part of our job includes jumping into high-profile demos like airshows and football games."

Scott said being part of the Wings of Blue team has given him more opportunities than he ever dreamed of. "And I've loved every second of it," he added.

Scott said the academy's parachuting course is the only one in the world in which the first jump is completely solo.

"And you pull your own rip cord," he said. "So it's a pretty awesome opportunity — pretty terrifying at first, for sure. But I absolutely loved it.

"We put people in extremely stressful situations. We're literally doing a life-or-death activity. And just knowing that you have the confidence in yourself that you can save your own life, you can perform your procedures the right way, and jump safely, it's a huge confidence booster. And honestly, it's just a huge adrenaline rush as well."

Scott finished final exams on Dec. 18 and headed back to Anderson to spend Christmas break with his family. Earlier in December he learned that he'd been accepted for Air Force pilot training after he graduates in spring 2014. He hopes to eventually fly an F22 or F35.

He planned to meet up with the Wings of Blue team in late December and practice jumping in early January to get ready for the Orange Bowl. At the Orange Bowl, the Wings of Blue will have five cadets and one enlisted airman as the jump master, and two pilots flying the plane. Two more cadets will serve as the ground crew.

Earlier in December, Scott said he had logged more than 500 jumps. "That is still pretty junior in terms of skydiving," he said. "I technically hold a skydiving professional administrator's license. But most of the big demonstration teams have thousands of jumps. So we're pretty blessed to do what we do with somewhat limited experience."

Contact Randy Rendfeld at randy.rendfeld@heraldbulletin.com or 640-4861.