Golden Knights Vertical Program

Members of the Golden Knights Vertical Program (GKVP) practice in Vertical Formation Skydiving (VFS).

Members of the Golden Knights Vertical Program (GKVP) practice in Vertical Formation Skydiving (VFS).

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 or

-SFC Christopher Acevedo

8-Way Formation Team World Champions

army rig and medalsAs the 2014 U.S. Skydiving National Championships come to a close, the Golden Knights will be returning to Fort Bragg, N.C. with a few more medals to add to their trophy case. The Golden Knights won Bronze in 4-way open and Gold in 4-way female, 8-way open, 10-way speed, 16-way, and 4-way VFS advanced. The total medal count for this year’s Championships was 58, with 52 being gold, and 6 being bronze. The 8-way team had a stellar performance in which they set a new 8-Way World Record by scoring the most points ever in a single competition with 237 points. This topped the previous record of 229 points which the Golden Knights also held. They also remain the reigning Overall Formation Skydiving Champions for the fourth year in a row. It was a bitter sweet victory though as the 8-way team says goodbye to SFC Mike LaRoche. SFC LaRoche finishes his competitive career on the Golden Knights as an 18-time National Champion, 2-time World Champion, and a World Cup Champion. He will be leaving the Golden Knight family after being accepted to the Army’s Physician Assistant Program. SFC LaRoche leaves us on a high note, he has gained the respect, admiration, and gratitude of the American public and his teammates.

United States Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights Female 4-Way Competition Teams Sweeping the World

IMG_1890-wThe U.S. Army Parachute Team, Golden Knight Female 4-way Team (GKF4),have already brought home a total of eighteen medals from the 2014 World Championship in Czech Republic and the 2014 USPA Nationals at Skydive Chicago.

The GKF4 had a fight to the finish in round 10, but took home the Bronze in the 4-way FS Open category. They stole the Gold for Women’s 4-way FS Open category and set a national and Illinois state record for most points in a round by an all women 4-way FS in an Open category with 29 points. The previous record was 28 set by GKF4 last year at USPA Nationals (Skydive Chicago.)

These dynamical ladies are whirling through the world like a class four tornado (a growing force not to be reckoned with.)

The GKF4 and US Women’s Team is comprised of Team Leader and veteran competitor Sergeant 1st Class Angela Nichols, who did a phenomenal job mentoring her teammates, Sergeant 1st Class Dannielle Woosley, Sergeant 1st Class Laura Dickmeyer and Sergeant 1st Class Jennifer Davidson and videographer Sergeant 1st Class Scott Janise.

Continue to follow the Golden Knights and help us by sharing our story and wishing the best to our amazing GKF4 Team. They have traversed across the world to Solo, Indonesia to represent the Soldiers and US in the Military Parachuting Championships

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