Mayor MacDougall skydives with Army’s Golden Knights

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall (in front) is pictured tandem skydiving with SSgt. Aaron Figel of the U.S. Army Golden Knights.

Mayor Ed MacDougall took to the skies in a dramatic fashion on Feb. 26 — along with other South Florida mayors — but for him it wasn’t a new adventure so much as a familiar experience.

The group participated with the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team at Homestead Air Reserve Base, doing tandem jumps from a plane at 13,500 feet.

“They’re the equivalent to the Thunderbirds or Blue Angels,” MacDougall said. “It’s the Army’s elite paratrooper organization. It’s a group that travels the world.

‘This was put together by Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick, and he started it last year. They had mayors in this jump all the way from Central Florida south. It’s for solidarity. They’re looking for support for the military, and it’s also a recruiting tool. And we’re close to the Homestead base, so I think it’s important that we have a close tie with them.”

MacDougall represented Cutler Bay, and also participating were Mayor Phillip Stoddard of South Miami, Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson, and other mayors from outside of Miami-Dade County.

MacDougall was teamed up with SSgt. Aaron Figel for his tandem jump, and another member of the Golden Knights team jumped with them to take still photos and a video of the event. Although jumping out of a plane was a novel experience for most mayors, it was familiar territory for MacDougall, given his background.

“For me it was very special, since I’m an ex-Green Beret and airborne trooper myself, and my uncle, who was also a Green Beret Airborne, was one of the founding members of the Golden Knights organization, so I wanted to do this in memory of him and it was special for me to be able to go on that jump,” MacDougall said. “Jumping at 13,500 feet was new to me, but it was cool. I got a pretty good view of Cutler Bay and all of South Dade for that matter. I enjoyed it very much.”

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