Winter Training 2011 is officially over. Well almost, just an Army Physical Fitness test and load out of our line haul truck. The Golden Knights Tandem Team are looking forward to the trip back home. The Tandem Team has been on the road since January 4th. They were in San Antonio, TX for the US Army All American Bowl and flew straight into Miami to meet the Team for their intensive winter training. This years weather had its ups and downs. Get it “ups and downs”. When the weather was good the Team made great use of the day. This winter training, the Tandem Team conducted 304 Tandem Parachute jumps, and another 572 jumps filming Tandems, learning Canopy Piloting and checking the winds. The Tandem Team has made so far this year are over 350 Tandems and over 630 personal jumps, a great start to the 2011 Season.
The first day of Winter Training, Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth Preston came to jump with the Golden Knights along with several other Sergeant’s Major from our chain of responsibility. For the first day of Tandems and having SMA Preston not only jump once but four times, the team knew it would be a great start to the year. The Tandem Team then went to work at our office 2 ½ miles above Homestead Air Reserve Base taking Air Force, Coast Guard, Army and Customs officials on tandem jumps allowing our newest Tandem Instructor’s to enhance their exit techniques, free fall maneuvers, and parachute landings. SSG Jared Zell performed over 75 Tandems during winter training. His experience now allows him to take our next category of Tandem Passengers on their once in a lifetime opportunity. Also SSG Matt Acord who just moved over to Tandem Team from our Competition team also renewed his Tandem Rating. The Tandem Team now operates at a 100 % capacity for each instructor to perform Tandem’s as well as the duties of Free Fall Photography.
Reaching the half way point of Winter Training the Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders (MDC) visited the Team in Homestead. The MDC are great role models in the local community. Their Jump with the Golden Knights and day spent with the Soldiers on the Team, really helped them understand a little more about day to day life in the Army. The MDC work with the US Army quite a bit on USO Tours at bases around the world. Everyone of the MDC had a great time and now have a new story to tell.
The Second half of Winter Training Harvey Spigler, a Public Affairs Officer from the Miami Recruiting Battalion, brought principles, teachers, educators and administrators from local High Schools and Colleges out to spend the day with the Golden Knights. Each day was a great success. The teachers and educators who jumped with the Team have a new understanding about the US Army. They took their video and pictures back to their schools to let all of their students get a glimpse of them jumping out of an airplane with the US Army.
The last weekend of jumping brought us 11 Mayors from the Southern Florida area to sign a Community Covenant. The Covenant recognizes the hard work Army Soldiers endure and the Covenant honors the Soldiers and their families. Each Mayor jumped with the Team and after everyone landed they all signed the Covenant to recognize and honor US Army Soldiers and their families.
On the last day of Tandem Jumps for the Tandem Team, Harry Horgan came to jump with the Team. Harry is a hero and role model to the Miami area. Harry’s jump with the Team was an inspiration to everyone on the ground. He is in a wheel chair but never let that slow him down. A few modifications to his harness and extra care on landing and Harry was flying through the sky at 120 MPH. Harry is the Co Founder and CEO of Shake a leg Miami. An organization that helps children and adults with physical, developmental and economic challenges overcome everyday hardships and enjoy life to the fullest. It was a great honor to share the skies with such a great inspiration and role model.
Through the 2011 Winter Training the Tandem Team also assisted the Demo Teams in building formations and taking photos. World Champion formation skydiver SFC Eric Heinsheimer also helped coach the Demo Teams in Mass Formations. SFC Heinsheimer who has spent many years on the Team and the last 2 years on the Tandem Team will be leaving the Team soon. SFC Heinsheimer is going to work at the Pentagon. He currently holds the world record in 8 way formation skydiving. A record that has held for quite a few years, although it may be broken soon by a new era of GK 8 Way. He may be leaving but will always be part of the Team.
The Tandem Team heads back to Ft. Bragg to refit their equipment and get a little bit of R & R to reenergize for a very busy season. Tandem camps around the country and Air Show support will keep the Team busy doing what they do best. Bringing great people from all walks of life on the once in a lifetime opportunity. Until Next Time Blue Skies. Army Strong!