In 1959 the founders of the United States Army Parachute Team (USAPT) had a plan – to beat the Russians in freefall parachuting competitions. The parachute team has seen many changes to the sport in its 50-year history and has developed a concept to change to be at the forefront of the sport of skydiving – Golden Knight 2025 (GK25). Although 2025 is still in the distant future, the USAPT needs to begin taking the necessary steps to get there now. As the sport of skydiving evolves, the Golden Knights plan to take the lead in the three-dimensional freefall discipline with our Golden Knight Vertical Program (GKVP). The Vertical Program’s mission will be to promote the United States Army while competing in Vertical Formation Skydiving (VFS); attending state, national and world record breaking events; and competing in the Dynamic 4-Way (D4W) indoor vertical freefall simulator (wind tunnel) competitions.
The GKVP, much like the Golden Knights 4-Way and 8-Way formation skydiving competition teams, is building formations to time. The difference between these two competition disciplines is the axis of flying. Instead of flying in what all skydivers are initially taught, which is flying on their “belly”, these competitors fly in a “head down” attitude or “sit” attitude. This creates a three-dimensional plane instead of a single plane. Each point, or formation block, is judged by the video produced by the aerial videographer. Another difference is the videographer flies below the formation looking back up in a head down attitude whereas our 4-Way and 8-Way team’s videographer flies above the formation looking down in a more traditional belly attitude.
D4W is a vertical freefall simulator (wind tunnel) only competition and split into two events – speed and a free round. For the speed round, time begins when the first flyer leaves the ground. Each team must perform a series of complex maneuvers and will receive a time penalty for improperly completing a maneuver (busts). The time stops when the fourth flyer exits the tunnel. For the free round, each team will have sixty seconds from the time they enter the tunnel to perform a choreographed routine developed by their team. Free rounds are judged on three different aspects: dynamic, artistic expression, and execution. The dynamic aspect is the variety of moves, flying, orientation, and visual effect of the routine; artistic expression is the creativity, originality, and rhythm; and execution is based on synchronization, precision, and the full use of allotted time.
The VFS Team consists of five personnel: SFC Christopher Acevedo (Team Leader and videographer) and the formation flyers consisting of SSG Reese Pendleton, SSG Trey Martin, SGT John Long, and SGT Dan Osorio. The D4W Team consists of the four VFS flyers and SSG Jesse Stahler (a member of our World Champion 8-Way FS Team) will join the VFS Team for this event. The VFS Team began last year as a part time element training when time permitted, they went to the USPA Nationals at Skydive Chicago, and brought home the gold in the Advanced Category of VFS. As it stands, the GKVP looks to compete at the USPA Nationals at Skydive Eloy and a tunnel competition in Russia in 2015; attending record camps in preparation for a head down world record attempt in 2015 at Skydive Chicago; and ultimately competing at the world meet by2018. The GKVP is excited and ready for the challenges ahead. Make sure you stay up to date with the progress of our brand new section right here on armygk.armylive.dodlive.mil or facebook.com/usarmygoldenknights.
-SFC Christopher Acevedo