Navy Parachute Team: Leap Frogs

Leap Frogs, the Navy parachute team, spends most of its time traveling throughout the United States to conduct mesmerizing stunts. The team, which is based in San Diego, consists of Navy SEALs and other members of the Special Warfare Commandos (SWCC).

Purpose of the Leap Frogs

The Leap Frogs essentially acts as a Navy recruitment tool for the US Navy. By performing various stunts that include smoke grenades and acrobatics, the group educates civilians about the skills that recruits can gain by joining the Navy.

The average sailor, of course, does not reach the skill level of this intensive unit. Those chosen to participate in Leap Frogs are some of the most talented, hard-working members of the Navy. Their skills, however, can inspire civilians to learn more about the benefits of joining the Navy and serving their country.

Before or after a performance, a member of the Leap Frogs will often give interviews to help educate the public about what the Navy offers. Recruitment tables might also be available at an event. This gives fans an opportunity to meet these highly trained experts. It also gives the Leap Frogs an opportunity to reach out to communities and help those interested in joining the US Navy get more information on the recruitment process.

Where Do Leap Frogs Perform?

The Navy Leap Frogs have been known to perform at a wide variety of events. They often perform their aerial maneuvers at air shows. They have also been known to perform at professional sports events. Many cities hold "Navy Weeks," during which the Navy is honored. The Leap Frogs often participate in activities created to entertain sailors and civilians during these weeks.

Leap Frogs will consider performing at practically any event where a large crowd gathers since it is their mission to educate the public and help recruit sailors.

What Happens at a Leap Frogs Event?

Leap Frog performance usually include maneuvers that even highly trained skydivers cannot perform safely. It is a group of truly unique men who have trained at the highest level for military combat.

Leap Frog performers usually jump from an aircraft traveling at 12,500 feet above the ground. This gives the SEALs enough time to perform a variety of maneuvers. During freefall, Leap Frog members reach 120 mpg, but they can alter their speed by shifting their bodies into certain positions. They often reach speeds as high as 180 mph.

After releasing their parachutes at around 5,000 feet, Leap Frog performers arrange themselves into shapes that look spectacular from the ground. These are extremely dangerous maneuvers that only highly trained specialists should attempt. Getting this close to other skydivers could cause parachutes to get tangled. Navy SEALs, however, have done similar operations in much more dangerous environments, so they fully understand how to maintain control of their positions during descent.

Leap Frogs often add to the beauty of their performances by using colorful smoke grenades. This leaves a trail of brightly colored smoke behind them as they fall toward the ground.

Scheduling the Leap Frogs

Anyone hosting a large event can request a performance by the Leap Frogs. Requests should be made at least 90 days before the event. Since the group receives so many requests, though, it makes sense to ask as early as possible.

The group can decline certain invitations because of scheduling or other conflicts. It does not have any obligation to accept event requests.

When the Leap Frogs accept a request, a show scheduler is assigned to assist the event coordinator with logistical, financial, and operational factors. Working closely with the show scheduler can help ensure that an event has the right permits and facilities for a performance. Failing to communicate with the show scheduler could result in cancellation.

Who Joins the Leap Frogs

The Leap Frogs consists of 15 Navy SEALs. Since only males can join the SEALs, all of the Leap Frogs are men. The team, however, changes constantly. Each member dedicates himself to a three-year tour with the Leap Frogs. After that time, he returns to military duty and is replaced by another SEAL.

This rotation allows Leap Frog participants to participate in the military operations that they were trained for while also giving them the opportunity to enjoy time away from combat zones. Not all Navy SEALs participate in Leap Frogs. Some do not wish to join the group because they prefer to focus on military operations. Given that there are only 15 members of Leap Frogs at any given time, there is also limited room for those who might like to participate.


5 Responses

  1. Written By: Cliff Hammer

    Thank you for sharing this information. I’m 67 years old now and when I was 12 years old I belonged to the Navy League Cadets in Tacoma, Washington. It was similar to Cub Scouts except it was actually at the Navy base in the harbor. My older brother was on the Ticonderoga and also a sub. He was a first class radio operator. All of you who serve in the United States military are very much appreciated!

    • Written By: larryf

      Thank you, Cliff. And as for me, thank you for your humble gratefulness to all those who have served… along with your older brother. Best, Larry

  2. Written By: George

    I’m retired from the USAF Reserve [former B-52H, HC-130(H) and C-130B navigator and, later, intelligence officer]. While flying the C-130B, my squadron at March ARB, CA was asked to take the Leapfrogs back to Louisville, Ky. They had been “hired” by the St. Louis Cardinals’ AAA minor league team to do demonstration jumps into Redbird Stadium the first three home games of their 1988 season. One jumper had been provided a Redbird mascot costume to jump with. Since I was the nav and not flying the airplane I could go back and watch them jump off the ramp. One evening, two of the guys—who would get directly over the field—would interlock their ankles/lower legs and then lean forward so that their chutes wouldn’t catch air. They’d just be falling. When they would get to the height of the stadium lights they would “unlock” their legs, their chutes would catch air, and they’d swing once and land. One night they were a little late separating and when we got there after landing at Louisville’s airport we discovered that one had a broken leg! It wasn’t a compound fracture; but he was on crutches….surrounded by girls!!

  3. Written By: John Holder

    Are the Leapfrogs performing here in Coronado soon. Here visiting from Wimberley, TEXAS. Would enjoy seeing a demonstration?

  4. Written By: Craig Buck

    I was a friend of Harry O’Connors, I trained him at NAS Miramar in 1977 on radios.
    I was ETN2 (USSTATTNALL DDG-19 and NAS Miramar 1972-1978. I was a weight lifter at
    Miramar with Harry who was later a LEAP FROG SEAL. He pumped up as a civilian for four years
    before he joined the Navy. In addition to the gym Harry ran 14 miles a day at Miramar.
    I am proud to have known him.

Leave a Reply