Golden Knights Vertical Program takes 2nd Place

IMG_9438-WThe GKVP team has participated in their first competition of the year. They went to Gunslingers Dos: The Fiesta Continues, which is a wind tunnel competition that took place at the iFly tunnel in Austin, Texas from May 8th-9th. The team arrived in Austin on the 7th and headed directly to the wind tunnel to test it out and see what the ideal wind speed to fly at was. After flying some formations and figuring out the wind speeds, the team was ready for the competition the following day.

The team competed in the vertical formation skydiving event on May 8th against two other teams. At 1:30 pm, all of the teams attending the briefing for the day got to draw for all 8 rounds of the competition. Right away the team got to work and started engineering the formations. Once 3:30 pm came around, the competition started! Each team is given one minute to fly, but only scored on 35 seconds. All of the teams knocked out the first round and did very well. But there’s no time to relax, because now it’s time to walk the dive for the next round. This process is repeated after every round until the last one is completed.

The competition is over for VFS, and the final scores will be released the following day at the award ceremony, the team can finally relax after a full day of hard work. The competition comes to an end on Saturday May 9th, and all of the competitors meet at a local restaurant for the awards. GKVP won second place with an 18.625 average. SDC Core took first place and third place went to team 4 Non-Blondes.

Not too long after Gunslingers, the team was scheduled to compete in The Bay Brawl at iFly San Francisco, May 17th. With only a week between the two competitions, the team trains hard to keep up the pace. The team flies out and arrives in San Francisco two nights prior. The very next day, the team flies in iFly San Francisco for the first time to get an idea for the wind speed and to get used to the size of the tunnel for the competition. After flying, the team feels confident about the following day. Sunday comes around and the team heads to the tunnel early to start walking the dive pool. Once 5 pm rolls around, the competition starts. The team has committed the first dive to memory and starts off slow and smooth right out the gates. For the first 2 rounds, the Golden Knights are in last, but following close behind the second place team. As the rounds continue, the team starts pulling ahead and gaining a strong foothold in second place. The team finished the competition with a 17.8 point average, claiming second place! GKVP continues to train hard for upcoming competitions and greatly appreciates everyone’s support.

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The Golden Knights Vertical Formation  Skydiving Team (VFS) began training at the Annual Certification Cycle 2015 in Homestead, FL on 13 Jan 2015. This brand new team consists of SGT John Long, SGT Dan Osorio, SSG Reese Pendlton, SSG Trey Martin, and the team leader SFC Chris Acevedo. Once jump operations started, this team has been hard at work going through the VFS advanced dive pool, mastering the exits and turning points in freefall. Every morning, the team starts off the day by doing a warm-up jump from full altitude and going through all of the points in the dive pool.

The mornings start at 6:00 am when they arrive at the dropzone and immediately get everything prepared for their first jump at 7:30am. This begins with turning on the Automatic Activation Devices on all of the rigs. The team then stretches together to get warmed up and relaxed for the jumps. Fifteen minutes before leaving for the airfield, they then do what is known as walking, which is similar to dirt diving. This is where they literally walk the dive flow of the jumps on the ground. Walking helps because it is the closest way to practicing a vertical orientation on the ground, and it ingrains the dive flow into memory. Everyone then gears up and gets ready to head to the airfield to get on the aircraft.

The first part of the skydive and one of the most important parts is the exit. To practice this, the pilots climb up to 7,000 feet giving the team enough time to work on their exit and get it stable just prior to break off at 5,000 feet. Once that particular exit has been mastered, it is incorporated into flying the dive pool from full altitude at 12,500 feet.

There have been days when weather has not been favorable, but this doesn’t stop the team from constantly working to improve themselves. When not jumping, they mock up all of the exits. The mock up is an exact replica of the door of the aircraft used. This allows the team to engineer and refine all of the exits for efficiency.

Half way through ACC and 150 training jumps in, the team has made leaps and bounds with progress since the first week of training. After becoming proficient with the advanced dive pool, the team has moved to working on the open dive pool. The open dive pool is harder and more technical with both the exits and freefall. It involves more head up orientation compared to the advanced dive pool. With the combined experience and engineering of the team, we have made extensive progress with the open dive pool. Everyone is very motivated and very excited for what the future holds with training and competitions.

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Golden Knights tryout for a World Record jump and help set a Florida State Record!

Jumpers set a new 42 Way Vertical Formation Record in Florida (photo by Bill Schmitz)

Shortly after Christmas, three members of the Golden Knights traveled to Skydive Sebastian in southern FL to tryout for a slot on the 2012 Vertical World Record. The tryout camp was part of the Skydive Sebastian Invasion, which saw 450 skydivers from around the world convene on the airport.   (more…)

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