It was a chilly Monday morning at the 2014 World Parachuting Championships in the Czech Republic. The 8-Way Formation Skydiving Team has completed their eighth and final practice jump out of the L-410 Turbolet aircraft. The L-410 is extremely different than the UV-18 Twin Otter aircraft that the Golden Knights primarily train from. The turbojet door is narrower and taller than the Golden Knights Twin Otter’s door. It’s also harder for us to maintain our grips on one another in the door and the exits don’t come off as clean as exits from the Otter. But after several practice jumps we feel confident enough moving forward. Tonight is the opening ceremonies and the draw. The official competition starts first thing Tuesday morning. The weather forecast is not looking very promising for the next couple of days. They are calling for a high chance of rain but all the teams are staying optimistic and hoping for favorable weather conditions.
SFC Joe Abeln and SFC Jared Zell of the US Army Golden Knights Canopy Piloting Team were in action Saturday at the third meet of the Northeastern Canopy Pilot Leage (NECPL). The competition took place at Skydive Cross Keys in Williamstown, NJ just east of Philadelphia. The drop zone had a busy line up hosting a Swoop Competition, a Sisters in Skydiving event, a Parachutists over Phorty (POPS) record attempt and over 100 Tandems scheduled. The weather was perfect with clear blue skies and light winds. The 16 Competitors were off to an early start with a 0700 competitor briefing. Once the loads were sorted the Canopy Pilots took to the sky.
The day started with the Speed event and SFC Abeln put down the fastest time of the day with 2.891 sec. Sven Jseppi of the Canadian National time was just behind him with a run of 2.901 seconds. SFC Abeln took 2nd in the Speed event while teammate SFC Zell took 5th. The competition switched to Distance. The thick air kept the distance runs shorter than expected. Again Abeln and Zell were looking at Jseppi just ahead of them. The Competition finished up with the Zone Accuracy event. Abeln was 27 points off the lead with two rounds to go. This challenging event tests the competitors overall ability to control speed and distance. SFC Abeln and SFC Zell both finished the meet with the best Zone Accuracy scores of the day both standing up in Zone 6. Abeln finished 1st place in Zone Accuracy but was only able to make up 24 of the 27 points needed to take the lead and finished 2nd place overall while Zell finished in 5th place. There is one meet left of the NECPL series. The last Competition will be on September 13th at Skydive Cross Keys. SFC Abeln looks to hold on to his overall standing of 1st place over the first 3 meets. For a look at the scores of all the meets check out http://necpl.controltower.io
The Golden Knights Canopy Piloting Team was busy this past weekend competing at the 2nd North East Canopy Pilot League meet of the Year. SFC Joe Abeln, SFC Jared Zell and SFC Greg Windmiller arrived at Skydive Crosskeys in Williamston, NJ, on Thursday to get some training jumps in at the newest Canopy Piloting League Pond on the East coast.SFC Windmiller fresh off of a successful shoulder surgery accompanied his team mates to the competition as the Team coach, but was quickly put to work as a Chief Judge when the Original Chief Judge came down with the flu and couldn’t make the trip up from Florida to critique the event.
The safety briefing was early Saturday morning with hopes of getting the first load up by 7:30. A massive thick fog rolled in and kept the anxious competitors grounded for about an hour. Once the fog lifted the competition was on. The day began with the exhilarating Speed event immediately followed by Distance and Zone Accuracy to finish off the meet.The Speed rounds had nearly no wind and after two jumps SFC Abeln took 2nd place, just 3 points behind the Leader Sven Jseppi of the Canadian National Team. SFC Zell was just a few points behind the top 3. The competition had a small break to set up the Distance course and before long round 3 was in the air.
Again SFC Abeln and Jseppi nearly matched scores and once again SFC Abeln took 2nd in Distance while SFC Zell rounded out the top 5. Zone Accuracy finished the meet off and a fairly high Tailwind picked up for the event. A tail wind is great for Speed and Distance but makes Zone Accuracy very difficult to control and stop standing up in a scoring zone.SFC Abeln was the first competitor to go in the pro class and set the bar high with a difficult stand up landing. His score held up to be the top score of the round giving him a 7 point lead over Jseppi with one round left to go. The winds picked up even higher for the final round making it very difficult for most competitors to stop in a positive scoring zone. Once again SFC Abeln matched scores with Jseppi giving SFC Abeln a 1st place finish in Zone Accuracy and hanging on for the overall 1st place spot.
SFC Zell finished in the 6th spot overall. Skydive Crosskeys, league director Brad Moon and all the judges did an amazing job of making the competition a very safe and successful meet. The Next meet for the Golden Knights canopy piloting team will be back at Skydive Crosskeys just outside of Philadelphia on August 9th. Please stop by and check out the action if you’re in the area.
Congratulations to SFC Joe Abeln and SFC Zell for such outstanding performances representing the US Army Parachute Team Canopy Piloting Section.