The City of Homestead Welcomes Golden Knights to their 2012 Winter Training

On Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at the City Hall Council Chambers, the U S Army Parachute Team, Sergeant Major Stephen Young and SSG Shelby Bixler, the Gold Demonstration Team Recruiting liason accepted a wonderful award from the city of Homestead.

Mayor Bateman thanked the team for returning to Homestead, for supporting the 63rd Annual Rodeo, the upcoming Bike Festival and the opportunity to take a tandem parachute jump with the team at training last year.


Mayor Bateman presented the SGM a beautiful framed document welcoming the team to “Our Beautiful City” and also gave the SGM a huge bright white, yellow and blue crest from the City of Homestead established in 1913.

He said they would be honored to have them hung in our Winter Training Facility on Homestead Reserve Airbase in appreciation of the city.


The US Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights, would like to thank the Mayor, Council members and the wonderful people in the community for all of the hospitality extended to the team and thank them for sharing their beautiful city, magnificent blue skies and warm sunshine

Gold and Black Team unite for Mass training!

It is week four for the Golden Knights here at winter training and it seems that the good weather has temporarily come to an end.  While enjoying the clear skies and tolerable winds for the first few weeks of training, the team jumped more times within that period than almost every year prior.  The training has been beneficial for everyone as target scores continue to improve and free fall flying abilities constantly excel.  The weather holds have not gone to waste as it gives the new members more of a chance to practice their narration and prep more smoke canisters for use.  The time also allows for much needed mentorship while on the drop zone but overall the time give the new guys a moment to take a step back and let the training soak in.

Last week the team was joined by three coaches from the West Point Demonstration Team “Black Knights” lead by head coach Tom Falzone.  Mr. Falzone is a veteran skydiver with over 25 years of experience and had a chance to give the team some tips on putting together some larger formations.  Both the Gold and Black teams received coaching from Mr. Falzone before putting both teams together for a 20-way formation.  Local Boy Scout Troops and JROTC Cadets that came out to watch the Golden Knights perform saw the mass formation.  Tom Falzone was thanked by the team as the Black Knights return to home to West Point New York.


Golden Knights Week One Warm UP!

Unloading truck

Preping for tandem passengers

It has been a sensational first week for the team training here at Homestead, AFB. Monday the Aviation crew and team members safely arrived to the great Sunshine State. The advance party greeted us and escorted us over to the headquarters to await the truck with all of the gear and equipment.

Everyone jumped right in to download and set up everything for the upcoming training and then checked in to the hotel to get settled into our home away from home.

7:00am each morning the demo teams suit up climb on the bus and head over to the flight line to hop onto “GK Air,” their office in the sky honed by “Team Six.”

Get it on Black Team

The first team goes up and checks the wind drift by throwing black and gold streamers know as “wheaties” by the tryouts that rolled most of them during the October Assessment and Selection Program. 


The other teams’ “new guy’s” practice their narration on microphone as background music plays softly as they slowly walk up and down the imaginary crowd line. Each of the newly knighted team members are assigned an “old guy” to mentor and guide them through this intense training to assure they are adequately prepared to meet the American public during their first show season.

Any of the individuals that are having difficulties and are not performing superbly in each area will be individually coached by members of the team to bring them up to the Golden Knight standard. If for some reason they do not pass the courses during this winter training period they will not be allowed to accompany the team to show destinations and will be continually trained at the teams drop zone at Laurinburg-Maxton Airport in North Carolina.

When the bus arrives from the flight line the narrator tells the rest of the team to suit up and everyone immediately runs over to the enormous black tent which shades all of the gear which is precisely laid out in a prestine row beginning with the team leader. As they head over to the plane the first C-31 Friendship Fokker flies high over head releasing the first group on the manifest.

As the plane flies by you can see one parachute after the other deploying from the side doors of the plane until the sky is full of beautiful black and gold chutes in the majestic blue sky. Each jumper circles and turns setting up for the right approach and set their sites for the bright orange target placed on the drop zone by SFC Bovee, who is in charge of the dz.

SSG Acevedo coming in for dead center stand up landing

Right now there are a lot of fives, but I’m sure it will improve as the weeks go on. The teams are super supportive counseling and coaching their peers. At the end of the day for the final jump everyone gathers around the target to cheer each other on. The assistant team leader gets the video footage that Mike Battise has been shooting all day so they can review each jump. Everyone gathers their equipment heads for the team room debriefing and looks to the start of a new day.

Jerry Morrison tandems in with SSG Watts

SFC JD Berentis leads his team into the dropzone

SGT Martin packing his chute

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