Parachuting All Veteran Group will Leap at Bridge Day 2015
The All Veteran Group will be leaping through the sky over Bridge Day from a plane that flew in World War II’s D-Day attacks.
Expect smoke, flags and stunts from the active and retired military members in the AVG, who use parachute demonstrations and skydiving to promote patriotism and veterans issues.
“We learn a skill set in the military. And once you retire, you don’t lose those assets gained in the military,” said Mike Elliott, the founder and president of the AVG. “This is a way to showcase and use these skills to give back and promote what veterans do every day.”
It’s more than just jumping, Mike said. There will be a group of skydivers, performing maneuvers in the air, with flags representing different branches of the military, smoke and other theatrical elements to help draw attention to their cause.
The plane they’ll be flying, the Whiskey 7, is the authentic lead plane from the second attack on Normandy. In a partnership with the National Warplane Museum, the aircraft was revived for an anniversary flight to France last year, commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
During the anniversary show, Mike had the opportunity to leap with General George Patton’s granddaughter, Helen Patton. Mike has made more than 10,000 skydives, many with prominent figures, including 3 leaps with America’s 41st President, George W. Bush Sr.
But that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing.
“I still get nervous,” he said. “But now it’s more performance anxiety than anything else. Imagine leaping out over a crowd of 100,000 people chanting ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’ The patriotic feeling overtakes your body. To be able to do this and to represent veterans, it’s an immeasurable sensation.”
Mike said promoting that American spirit and support for the troops makes him swell with pride. But when started the AVG in 2011, it was to honor the memory of a particular veteran.
“One of my best friends took his own life,” he said. “I wanted to make something positive out of that.”
And he certainly has: in addition to their performances, the AVG works to support veterans through aerial therapy, provide outreach to veterans’ organizations and families, and even recognize everyday heroes in communities across the nation.
Be a part of the crowd cheering Mike and his crew on, showing support for our soldiers at Bridge Day.
Will you be chanting “U-S-A” for Mike and our veterans at Bridge Day this year?