Diamonds in the sky

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joseph A. Pagán Jr.
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Spectators look into the sky as three L-39 Albatros aircraft fly overhead inches apart in a perfect formation. The Black Diamond Jet Team entertained the thousands of base guests at the 2012 Barksdale Air Force Base Defenders of Liberty Air Show.

The Black Diamond Jet Team was founded by retired Lt. Col. Jerry Kerby and Jared Isaacman, Harbortouch Chief Executive Officer and the team's major sponsor.

"I was doing a lot of flying with Jared," said Kerby. "I taught him to fly the L-39 and in his first formation flight, one night we said to each other, 'why don't we start an air show team'."

The team started in August 2010 and was originally named Heavy Metal Jet Team with only two Aero L-39 Albatros jets.

"Our team grew to five airplanes and more pilots," said Kerby. "We bought the airplanes and designed the paint schemes."

The team quickly booked 25 shows and finished off its first season with approximately 80 to 90 performances.

"We added a MiG-17 half way through and an additional MiG-17 at the end," said Kerby.

With the fast growth of the team, the Heavy Metal members decided their name no longer fit.

"We changed our name to Black Diamond Jet Team to represent a newer, stronger and more complex team like the black diamond of a ski slope," said Kerby.

The team also changed its base of operation from Lancaster, Pa. to Lakeland, Fla. because the majority of its shows were in the area and the weather was more suitable.

Today, there are now roughly 18 people on the team with seven having prior military service.

"The team performs at two military bases during the year and we love the support, hospitality and security," said Kerby.

He said the team only faces one challenge when performing on a military base.

"The challenge is for the guys that never served," he added. "They are not used to having a young kid with a weapon saying don't go here. You don't have that on a regular flighline."

Mostly the team performs for their favorite charity, Make-A-Wish Foundation because of the close association with Harbor Touch.

"We love to put a smile on the face of kids with special needs," said Kerby.

Only two acts performed stunts with other multiple aircraft, the Black Diamond Jet Team and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Both teams kept spectators on their toes.

"My children and I attend the event every year," said Jacob Benson, Shreveport, La. resident. "They love to see the stunts and all of the different colored aircrafts including the Black Diamond Jet Team's new look."