They’re back! The skies above Tavares will once again be dotted by veteran paratroopers as they descend into Lake Dora. On Saturday, July 23, 80 jumpers from the Phantom Airborne Brigade will awe onlookers during the Phantom Family Day Water Jump beginning at 10 a.m.
Members of the brigade will jump from the Tico Belle, a WWII C-47 Skytrain flown by Valiant Air Command in Titusville. The vintage aircraft’s history includes dropping paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne into Normandy on D-Day, participating in Operation Market Garden in Holland, and providing support for the Berlin airlift. Since the Tico Belle can only transport 22 combat-ready paratroopers at a time, the plane will make multiple passes over Lake Dora with groups of jumpers.
The first group of paratroopers are scheduled to jump over Lake Dora at 10:00 a.m., with additional groups jumping every 20 minutes. Four flights are scheduled with a total of eight passes over the lake with ten jumpers each. The ideal vantage point is by boat in the area allowed during the event and the shoreline of Wooton Park located at 100 E. Ruby Street in downtown Tavares. Free parking is available in the nearby parking garage located at 100 N. Sinclair Avenue.
Phantom Airborne Brigade is a veteran’s organization giving military-trained Airborne veterans the opportunity to participate in military static-line jumps after leaving active duty. Disabled and combat wounded paratroopers also participate in the group’s organized jumps. The veterans include members of the 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, 173rd Airborne, LRRP, Special Forces, 1Para, Rangers, and others.