SFC Joe Abeln of the Golden Knights Canopy Piloting Team was in New Jersey this past weekend competing in a brand new league. The North Eastern Canopy Pilot League (NECPL) held its first ever meet at Free Fall Adventures in Williamstown, NJ. This new league will give competitors training events all summer long in preparation for this years World Championships in November.
NECPL consists of two classes, a Rookie/Amateur class, and a Pro/Open Class. All pilots are considered Amateur unless they are issued pro qualification. The competitors must have a Pro Card issued from FLCPA, compete in a Pro class and qualify for competition and prove they have the experience to compete as a Pto class Pilot.
A high head wind prevailed for the entire day Saturday making for challenging conditions. Distance was the first event of the day followed by Zone Accuracy and after a six hour long weather hold the speed event finished off the meet just before sunset. SFC Abeln took 1st place in Distance and Zone Accuracy and 2nd place overall for the meet. The next meet will be the 2nd weekend of July at the Cross Keys airport in Williamstown, NJ.
Early Thursday morning Gold team took off for Omaha, NB home of the College World Series. Immediately after landing we headed to the field and surveyed the landing area. After all ground preparations were complete we headed to the plane and suited up for the afternoon’s practice jump. The winds barely held off but stayed just below our limits and allowed all jumpers to safely land in the stadium.
As the team headed to the plane Friday afternoon there was not a cloud in the sky and nothing to stop the evenings jump. The team greeted the press riders and active duty Air Force members that were joining the team for the evenings flight. Once the safety brief was complete and the team leader, SFC Dustin Peregrin reviewed the evenings jump plan, the team headed inside the aircraft to once again put on the black double zipper jump suit. However, this evening we would all wear one of the eight team jerseys representing all the schools that made it to the World Series.
The C31 Friendship Fokker took off and headed straight for the stadium for the streamer drop. The plane continued to circled over head until we received the call from the Drop Zone Ground Controller, SSG George Perez with the 2 minute warning. The plane turned in bound and the hot target was echoed throughout the plane. SGT Trey Martin Gold Team Videographer stepped out solo and landed the American flag. The remaining 8 team members stood in the plane awaiting their turn. Only a few minutes passed until we all left the plane and found ourselves all landing safely in the outfield just minutes prior to the evenings firework show. Special thanks to the city of Omaha and the staff at the College World Series. Best of luck to all the teams that made it! SSG Jon Clevenger
SFC Josh Coleman Baton Presentation
In June of 1942 over 24,000 allied troops gathered at grassy fields in England to perform a task that has become a common sight at FT Bragg, NC. The men gathered their equipment, donned their parachutes, and took off into the night sky. Hours later, more than 160,000 troops stormed the Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches that spanned 50 miles of Normandy coastline.
June 6th, 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of the prolific invasion that launched American Forces into Occupied France. At Bedford, VA over 6,000 veterans, family members and supporters gathered at the National D-Day Memorial to commemorate the historic event. Laid out over a sprawling amphitheater, the memorial showcased a reenactment of the landing cast in stone and iron, complete with a beachhead made with sand from Normandy.
On Friday, members of the Golden Knights 8-Way competition section were honored to perform an airdrop over the monument in front of the courageous men who filled it’s seats. At exactly 11:30 AM SFC Kurt Isenbarger gave the ‘standby’ signal and seven paratroopers exited our UV-18 Twin Otter to pay homage to the men and women who paved the road to Berlin. Shortly after the jump, SFC Sean Sweeney and SFC Josh Coleman presented two mahogany batons, which were flown in with the jumpers to 1LT John Kessler; the guest of honor at Friday’s memorial.
The legacy of men like 1LT Kessler and the countless veterans that made the ultimate sacrifice on the shores of Normandy are the reason why all Soldiers hold themselves to such impeccable standards. The actions of allied troops across both European and Pacific Theaters established a measure of toughness, devotion to duty, and honor that stands as a model for the men and women of today’s Armed Forces that will surely carry into the future.
SFC Drew Star