The Golden Knights proudly and humbly memorialize Jonathan Tagle with the letters JT flown in free fall above Laurinburg NC. Home of the Golden Knights. The initials he was famously known for. He was more than just a skydiver. JT was an inspiration to all of those that put on a parachute. He was a professional canopy pilot, a pioneer and an ambassador for a country in a discipline that has no margin of error. One which is not for the feint of heart. Flying parachutes at speeds nearing 90 miles per hour inches from objects and from the ground. His smile was infectious and his attitude was glorious. In an individual sport he was one of my biggest adversaries. With his small stature, but his larger than life personality which was only matched by his incredible talent. I have been teammates with him several times as we represented the United States in international competition. He pushed me to want to be a better pilot. His mere presence made everyone perform to the best of their abilities, because if they didn’t he was unbeatable. He was, several times over a National Champion and a World Champion. We were competitors together we were competitors against one another, we were team mates but most of all we were friends. With a heavy heart and my deepest condolences to his family, his friends and fellow teammates on the Performance Designs Factory Team, I say good bye to a true friend.
Blue Skies JT
(written with deepest simpathy and warmest regards by Greg Windmiller)
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.
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.