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    U.S. Army Parachute Team medals in National Skydiving Championship events

    U.S. Army Parachute Team competes in National Skydiving Championship events

    Photo By Megan Hackett | The U.S. Army Parachute Team is competing in the United States Parachute Association...... read more read more

    ELOY, AZ, UNITED STATES

    10.29.2021

    Story by Megan Hackett 

    U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights

    The United States Army Parachute Team competed in the United States Parachute Association Nationals Competition from Oct. 25-30 at Skydive Arizona in Eloy, Ariz. The USPA competition began on Oct. 17 with other skydiving disciplines. It is a multi-week event, culminating on Oct. 30.
     
    The annual skydiving competition, held at a different location each year, hosts the nation’s top skydiving teams in multiple disciplines of skydiving. USAPT competed in all events of Formation Skydiving (FS), which included 4-way, 8-way, 10-way, and 16-way open class events.
     
    Formed in 1959, the USAPT competition teams have earned more than 50 national level titles and 490 medals in national competitions. In 1961, the team adopted the nickname of the ‘Golden Knights’; Golden, signifying the gold medals the team had won; Knights, proving that they were world champions and had “conquered the skies.” 
     
    The Golden Knights 8-way Competition team, comprised of 10 active duty Soldiers, trained for this competition at their facility local to Fort Bragg, NC. The Formation Skydiving discipline requires each team to link together to construct specific formations within a set time limit.

    “It’s been really great to see the team continue to grow and maintain the tradition of FS,” explain Chris Wagner, the USPA Regional Director and former Golden Knight. “They have a legacy in FS in the world.”
     
    Each event was 10 rounds, where teams earned points for each formation achieved. The team jumped from the DeHavilland Twin Otter airplane throughout the competition, which is the same aircraft they train with at their home training facility in Laurinburg-Maxton Airport.
     
    “We appreciate the Golden Knights, they’re a staple of Nationals,” said USPA Director of Competition Steve Hubbard. “It’s great to see them this year and I know they’ll do well.”
     
    The event started with an intense 4-way competition. The Golden Knight’s 8-way Competition team divided into two teams, Black Team and Gold Team, to participate in the 4-way Formation Skydiving event. Known as the most competitive event in Formation Skydiving, the event spanned two days and 10 rounds of close competition. In an awards ceremony that immediately followed the 4-way competition, Golden Knights Gold team took third place and Golden Knights Black team took ninth place. 
     
    “There is definitely some pressure going into it, of wanting to perform and do well,” explained Staff Sgt. Michael Connors. “We are learning where we are as a competition team and seeing where we need to improve.”

    Connors is in his first year on the competition team and third year on the Golden Knights. As one of the newest members to the competition team, Connors has 1,321 parachute jumps.
     
    The 8-way competition began the following day, maintaining their momentum from the 4-way event. 
     
    Competing against the reigning world champions of 8-way FS, Airspeed XP8, the Golden Knights battled over two days of close competition.  The Golden Knights placed second out of seven teams in the open class. 

    “We added two new members in July of 2021,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Starr. “These junior members are poised to help us more in the future as we build their experience through the competition process.”

    Starr has over 10,000 parachute jumps and is serving in his 10th year on the competition team. “The main goal of the competition section this year is to focus on growing the team through senior and junior competitor mentorship programs, as Soldiers do across the Army.
    We want to represent the technical expertise of the American Soldier and to win championships in the name of the Army.” 


    Following the 8-way competition, USAPT began the16-way competition. Members of the Golden Knights and Airspeed XP8 teams combined to form a joint skydiving team. The team dominated the event, taking a 27 point lead to earn the gold medal.

    The final FS event was the 10-way speed competition.  10-way is unique, as it the only formation event of its kind. The purpose is to build a formation as swiftly as possible, with the time beginning at the moment the first teammate exits the jump aircraft. USAPT placed second, trailing first place by less than a second. 

    “No other organization has had the kind of lasting impact on sport parachuting as the Golden Knights,” said Randy Connell, USPA Director of 2021 National Championships. “The team is incredible, and it’s the individual Soldiers that are truly good sportsmen.” Connell, who has 36 years of experience in the sport of skydiving, has watched the Golden Knights compete every year in national and world level competitions.
    “I cannot being to explain their value to the sport of skydiving.”
     
    USAPT earned medals in four events, with a total of 32 medals at the 2021 USPA skydiving nationals event.

    
Please visit the U.S. Army Parachute Team website at www.goarmy.com/events/golden-knights.html to see upcoming events in your area.
     

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.29.2021
    Date Posted: 10.29.2021 22:42
    Story ID: 408379
    Location: ELOY, AZ, US 
    Hometown: FORT BRAGG, NC, US

    Web Views: 240
    Downloads: 0

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