On December 16th, 2014, in a modest ceremony at Battalion Headquarters, Chief Warrant Officer Five Jeffrey Sopp was appointed as the first Warrant Officer in Golden Knight history to command the Team’s Aviation Detachment. Hailing from Pennsylvania and serving in the Air Force before joining the Army in 1990, Mr. Sopp could not have possibly envisioned all those years ago, that he would one day lead our team of highly skilled Aviators and Ground Crew in its mission to support the World-Class United States Army Parachute Team.
Perhaps our readers may doubt the Unit’s decision to place a Warrant Officer in charge, but those skeptics have obviously not met Jeffrey Sopp. Always the consummate quiet professional, he has already begun skillfully guiding Team Six through eleven solid weeks of intense and demanding training at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida in preparation for our most action-packed show season to date. Upon returning to Pope Army Airfield in March, both C31A Friendship Fokkers and all three deHavilland Twin Otter 400s will traverse the United States coast to coast in support of the Army’s recruiting mission.
Our Aviators and Ground Crew will journey together with our Jumpers as we build to achieve Golden Knight 2025 at the forefront of the sport of skydiving. Few could lead this charge other than Mr. Sopp. Join us in congratulating Mr. Sopp on this supreme career achievement and be ready to see Team Six thrive in the coming months as our parachuting experts continue to bring home their gold medals.
The Golden Knights Canopy Piloting Team competed October 9-11, 2014 for the 2nd Annual Sun Path Products Canopy Piloting Open in Raeford, NC. The event attracted 43 of the best Canopy Pilots in the world making the Competition a great train up for the upcoming World Championships.
The meet started on Thursday with two rounds of Zone Accuracy and two rounds of Speed events. A tail wind on the Zone Accuracy course made for very difficult runs for the competitors. After two rounds the event switched to the speed events. The wind was very light allowing for fast runs by the competitors.
Friday was the day for distance and the meet director ran three rounds of a new form of the distance event. For the new rounds the competitors had to navigate a carving course before starting their distance runs. The first round proved to be a big hit with the competitors and everyone agreed to finish out the event with two more rounds of the untraditional distance.
The competition wrapped up on Saturday, although the weather put the competitors on hold for most of the day waiting on the winds to diminish. The strong head winds and even stronger winds aloft made for a very challenging day.
One round of untraditional Zone Accuracy and one round of dragging water speed were the last events left. The head winds lead to a very high number of competitors not receiving scores.
SFC Joe Abeln who received a new parachute a day before the competition flew strong, while dialing in the new wing and finished 16th overall while SFC Jared Zell finished in 23rd overall. The Canopy Piloting team will be traveling to Zephyrhills, FL at the end of the month to represent the United States at the World Championships of Canopy Piloting.
Gold Demonstration Team has just returned from the sunny skies of San Diego, California where the Marine Corps Base was hosting the annual MCAS Miramar Airshow. This is one of the biggest shows of the year, hosting 18 acts, 43 static displays and 1.8 million spectators. The team performed all three days, with a double performance on Saturday for Miramar’s spectacular night show. The airshow host for the weekend was honorary Golden Knight, Mr. Rob Ryder. Rob is an essential part of our team, as he joins us at our Annual Certification Cycle every year to help the newest members of the team learn how to present the Golden Knight narration.
SGT Blake Gaynor started off the show everyday by flying in the US Flag to the National Anthem while Sean Tucker, airplane aerobatics pilot, circled him. To make it even more exciting, at the exact moment that the Anthem ended and the narrator touched ground, two F18′s buzzed the crowd while a wall of fire exploded in the distance. Gold Team would then perform the full show, to include a baton pass, cut-away, diamond track, and a mass formation accompanied by the Navy’s Leap Frogs.
The team presented 4 batons to various Marines for their exceptional service, who were recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty. The recipients included, SGT Keonaona Paulo, SGT JD Coverdale, CPL Brandon McGibbon, and Isabel Urena. The team also presented a lithograph to Lt. Col. Klunk for his organizational help throughout the show.
On Saturday night, the team had perfect lighting for a sunset jump over Miramar. Jumping both pyro and smoke, Trey Martin (videographer), captured a beautiful photograph of the team performing a mass formation with the pacific ocean and the beautiful state of California in the background. After the Golden Knights landed, many more aerial demonstrations were performed by the various acts at the show. Following these performances, the firework show took off with incredible choreographing and led up to the grand finale of the renowned Wall of Fire.
It was a honor and privilege to work with all the many performers over the weekend. The team will look forward to returning to the beautiful state of California and to the Miramar Airshow in the future.