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.
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
The US Parachute Team for Canopy Piloting photo by SFC Jared Zell
What a week! The Golden Knights canopy piloting team spent the last 12 days in Zephyrhills, FL competing in the final Florida Canopy Piloting Association (FLCPA) meet of the season and the USPA National Championships of Canopy Piloting.
The final FLCPA meet of the year was also the largest. Just days before Nationals, Canopy Pilots from across the globe came out to fine tune their flying skills. Over 60 competitors took to the skies making the competition a very tight race for the top spots. A strong tail wind was the story of the day helping the competitors go faster and further than most have gone before. By the end of the FLCPA meet SFC Greg Windmiller, SFC Joe Abeln and SFC Jared Zell all finished in the top 10 of the final five meet league standings.
Two days after the FLCPA wrapped up, USPA Nationals of Canopy Piloting began. Nearly 80 Competitors showed up to Skydive City for the competition. Three rounds of each Speed, Distance and Zone Accuracy are the events for nationals. This year was also a selection year for making the 8 person US Team for the up coming World Championships later this year also at Skydive City. The jumpers completed five rounds of competition by the end of the first day, all three rounds of speed and two rounds of distance. The second day finished out the last four rounds. A stiff head wind picked up for the afternoon making the final round of Zone Accuracy very challenging.
SFC Joe Abeln salutes the camera on exit. Photo by Randy Swallows
When the scores were posted the Golden Knights had a lot to celebrate. SFC Joe Abeln took a Bronze medal in Zone Accuracy and an 8th place overall finish making the US Team as an alternate. SFC Greg Windmiller despite a shoulder injury finished a Bronze medal overall and making the US Team in 3rd place.
SFC Joe Abeln
SFC Joe Abeln going for distance photo by Jim Harris
SFC Joe Abeln wins the Bronze Medal in Zone Accuracy photo by Jared Zell