GK Canopy Team brings home medals and a World Record

Over the last two weeks the Golden Knights Canopy Piloting team were in the midst of an epic battle.  The team started out at the final FLCPA meet of the season on June 9th.  The last meet brought the top canopy pilots in the country to the competition.  Everyone was trying to get in one last meet before US Nationals. The final meet also turned out to be one of the longest days of the FLCPA’s history.  The competitors started out with a 0700 safety briefing followed by the mandatory practice round.  A light tail wind helped the jumpers through speed course and led to some blistering fast times.  After the two rounds of speed were complete the light tail wind turned into a strong and turbulent wind putting the competition on hold for over five hours.  As late afternoon hit the winds started to die down slightly.  At 1730 the Caravans cranked up and jumping resumed.  The only question was how many of the four rounds would be able to be completed before the sun would set.  The judges, competitors and staff moved as quickly as possible changing the course, packing their parachutes and flying the aircraft and with two minutes before official sunset the last jumper landed to complete the competition.  The judges sorted out the results and late Saturday night, 15 1/2 hours after the safety brief the awards ceremony commenced.  SFC Greg WIndmiller had an amazing meet and finished 1st in Zone Accuracy, 3rd in speed and 2nd place overall for the meet.  After announcing the winners of the meet, FLCPA director Albert Berchtold announced the overall standings of the league.  Again it was SFC Windmiller standing on the podium.  After four meets that saw between 30-60 competitors he took home the 3rd place trophy.   SFC Joe Abeln competing as a PRO for the first year finished in 9th place overall, 5th out of the Pros. 

 Just five days after the end of the FLCPA, US Nationals of Canopy Piloting started out just the way the last meet did.  A light tail wind seemed to be the trend for the winds in North West GA.  This year 41 Open competitors battled it out for a chance to make the top 8 and represent the US at the World Meet in Dubai later this year.  An additional 15 advanced class competitors made up the meet.   The competition started early on Thursday with a 0700 wheels up time. This year the meet director chose to run two rounds of each event on the first day of competition, then finish the last round of each on the 2nd day.  The tail wind proved very challenging for the first event, Zone Accuracy.  Competitors must drag their foot through four water gates then stop their parachute and stand up in a scoring zone.  In the distance event the jumpers must drag through an entry gate then stay under a 1.5 meter high course for 50 meters.  Once the jumper passes the exit gate they try to fly as far as the can with the first point of contact with the ground marking their score.  The final event of the first day was Speed.  The speed course has the competitors flying for 220 ft below a 1.5 meter course marker and carving 70 degrees.  With two aircraft flying the first six rounds of the meet were finished fairly quickly and after the judges posted the days scores the competitors were released for the day.  Friday morning started out yet again with a tail wind and competitors took advantage of the winds in the speed and distance rounds.  SFC Windmiller set a new World, National and State record with an amazing time of 2.404 seconds.  The speed event this year was the tightest competition ever with the top three being separated by less than 6/10th   of a point after three rounds.  SFC WIndmiller took the Silver medal in speed.  The distance event also saw a new world record as Nicholas Batsch flew over 150 meters.  This years competition was the closest one folks can remember with the lead changing nearly every round.  No one was certain who would stand on top until all nine rounds were in the books. In the end Curt Bartholomew stood on top the podium as National Champion.  Close behind Curt was his Alter Ego Teammate Nicholas Batsch.  SFC Windmiller as selected to be the US Team Manager for World Meet in Dubai.    Performance Designs Factory Team member Tommy Dellibac took home the bronze.  USPA, the judging staff and Skydive the Farm did an amazing job running the 2012 USPA National Championship of Canopy Piloting. 

GK Competitors Go Head-to-Head

The Carolina Skydiving League held its first competition of 2012 this past weekend at PK Airpark in Raeford, NC. 13 4way Teams arrived early Saturday morning to compete in a “mini” 6 round meet. The Golden Knights were represented by 2 4way teams: GKF4- the Women’s 4way Team, and GK Black- the less experienced half of the Golden Knights 8way Team.

GKF4 finishes block 19

The two GK teams have been competing against one another for over a year now, with each team trying to gain an edge on the other.  It’s a friendly competition, but a serious one at that, as bragging rights are at stake.  GKF4 beat GK Black at the 2011 US Nationals last year, but GK Black answered back with a win at the 2012 Indoor Skydiving Championships.  After 4 rounds of competition, GK Black was in the lead by 2 points. The lead did not last long as GKF4 won round 5 by 2 points, which led to a tie going into the final round. On round 6, GK Black had some trouble on the exit, and GKF4 capitalized with a great round, thereby winning round 6 and taking the overall Gold at the first Carolina Skydiving League Competition of 2012. GKF4 finished the 6 rounds with a 18.0 average. The Golden Knights Competition Team is very fortunate to have 2 4way teams that can push each other to greater levels, all in house.

GKF4 turns block 2, sidebody donut

In between competititon rounds members of the Golden Knights took time to help out the intermediate and rookie teams with technique and dive engineering. The Irish Military 4way team also competed, as they have been training alongside the Knights all week at our training facility in Laurinburg, NC.  Two Carolina Skydiving League competitions remain for 2012, and the Golden Knights’ Competitors will continue to train and compete in preparation for the 2012 Nationals and World Meet later in the year.

Golden Knights Win in Florida

The Paraclete XP Outdoor Skydiving Championship/Shamrock Showdown wrapped up midday Sunday in sunny Deland, Florida.  While this meet takes place in Florida, it has attracted more international teams than the years prior.  In fact, there were more international teams than US teams in attendance.  Many of these teams will meet again in Dubai 2012, making this competition even more interesting.

GKF4 turns a Monopod on the hill over Deland, FL

Once again, GKF4 went up against the female teams from Norway and France.  The only newcomer to the scene was the Canadian team, Crimson Fox.  While Crimson Fox is a relatively new team, they put on a good showing and have earned the official distinction as the first Canadian National Female 4-way Team.

GKF4

At the World Parachuting Cup in August 2011, France, Norway and GKF4 competed under similar circumstances.  At that competition, France took first and Norway took third over GKF4, who placed fourth.  This competition’s standings ended up the same with France in first, Norway in second and GKF4 in third.  While the spread between first and second was not as close, the battle for second was fierce, especially in the last three rounds, won by GKF4.  In the end, Norway took second over GKF4 by one point.

SFC Drew Starr videos GK8 over Deland, FL

The 8way battle between the Golden Knights (Team USA) and Russia ended Sunday with GK8 coming out on top.  After 10 rounds the GK8 scored 219 points- 28 points ahead of the Russians.  GK8 jumped out to an early lead on Saturday, winning the first 3 rounds of competition by 3 points each.  The Russians were certainly not beat, as they went on to tie GK8 in rounds 4,5, and 6.  On Sunday morning GK8 won rounds 7 and 8 by 4 and 7 points respectively.  Round 9 presented a possible world record sequence of formations.  The current 8way single round record of 31 points was set by the Golden Knights in 1997 and still stands today.  GK8 tied that record on round 9 with 31 points in 50 seconds of freefall, but were deducted 2 points for an incomplete formation and incomplete separation.  The Russian Team built 30 formations in time, but were also deducted 1 point resulting in another tie between GK8 and Russia.  The Knights went on to win the final round by 6 points after Russia experienced a mid-air collision.  The 21.9 average is a new Team best for GK8 in competition.

GK8 and the Russian 8-way team, Barkli

Following the Competition, GK8 presented the Russian 8way team with a Golden Knight Sword and plaque which reads “Friends, Comrades, Competitors”.  SFC Brian Krause and SFC Sean Sweeney went on to explain the significance of the Sword and to express our appreciation for their long travels and commitment to competition.  Competition history between USA and Russia goes back over 50 years, and will surely continue.

GK8 and GKF4 have returned to Fort Bragg, NC and, after a Safety Day of our own, the training will continue.  Dubai 2012, here we come!  Blue skies!

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