The Golden Knights have arrived in Homestead Florida for Winter Training. This is the time for the graduates of the 2011 Assessment and Selection program to stand up and be seen as part of the team. Both the Black Team and Gold Team received three new demonstrators this year, the “New Guys”. This is the time of year for “New Guys” to learn from the “Old Guys” and for the “Old Guys” to refresh their skills after the long break form the show season. The teams that arrived in Homestead are The Headquarters section, Gold Team, Black Team, Aviation section(Team Six) and the Tandem Team . Everyone that arrived Sunday greeted the Golden Knight C-31 Aircraft as they arrived on Monday carrying the remainder of the team. After being given the safety brief it was time to get back in the air where we belong practicing our maneuvers to demonstrate before millions of spectators each year.
The first day of jumping was a humbling experience for several Knights who have not been jumping since the show season ended and yet most of the seasoned veterans never lost their touch. Winter training is not just about jumping or target accuracy but also a time to learn the all important show narration. The “New Guys” will also be using this time to practice their public speaking skills and truly learn what it means to be a showman. As each of the “New Guys” took to the microphone they were accompanied by their teammates, giving them helpful hints and much needed coaching. The team’s leadership feels it was a good first day and is looking forward to the upcoming show season!
Jay Mercer, head of HR for Kenai Drilling LTD experiences his first skydive with SSG Jon Ewald
We were in San Antonio last week conducting tandems in connection with the Army’s All-American Bowl. While we enjoyed mild days with blue skies, a huge cold front swept through our home base of NC taking temps down into the teens…no complaints from any of us! Stinson Airport, a small private airport in south San Antonio treated us fabulously, as usual, and was there to help us at every turn.
The passengers included teachers, school administrators, and entrepreneurs from companies who are heavily involved with hiring vets. Unfortunately we didn’t stay for the game because we need to get home and prepare for our eight week winter training period, which starts next week. We had a great time and can’t wait to come back to TX next year!
Digging deep into competition history you’ll find that Russia is the “Mother” of competitive parachuting. As early as 1930, jumpers in Russia were competing to see who could land their parachutes closest to a target- known today as Classic Accuracy. The first sanctioned World Parachuting Championships took place in Yugoslavia in 1951, USA was not present. It wasn’t until the 1956 World Parachuting Championships that the USA would field a team.
The US Army Parachute Team “Golden Knights” began in 1959 as the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC) Sport Parachute Team. At that time they focused on one thing- beating the Soviets who dominated the sport of competitive skydiving. As you can imagine, in the Cold War Era, it wasn’t just about winning Gold Medals. With the Space Race also underway, parachuting carried even more weight as astronauts and scientists considered possible alternatives for re-entry to earth.
The 50+ year history of parachuting competition between USA and Russia will continue in March at the Shamrock Showdown as the Russian 8-Way team will travel to Florida to once again go head-to-head with the Golden Knights. Since the Golden Knights re-formed the 8-Way team (GK8) in 2009, they have competed against the Russians in 3 different competitions. One could argue that the competition between USA and Russia is more “friendly” these days, as members of both teams feel ample respect for each other. Nevertheless, Competitors from both sides will give 100% as they gear up to represent their respective Nations in a Competition which carries the weight of history.
2011 World Cup- USA 1st, Russia 3rd