FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Army News Service, Sept. 5, 2008) - The U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, pulled off a sweep of the Canopy Piloting Competition during the 2008 Swoop Week Championship ending Sept. 1 in Longmont, Colo.

Team members Sgt. Maj. Michael Eitniear, Sgt. 1st Class Greg Windmiller and Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Moore formed the first competitive swoop team in Golden Knight history and brought home first-, second- and third-place trophies in the CPC event.

The event, which took place over the Labor Day weekend, was divided into three categories or meets: Canopy Piloting Circuit; U.S. Nationals (Advance and Open categories); and the Pro Swoop Tour. The team's initial goal was to compete in the CPC and place in the top 10 in order to obtain their pro card, which can later open the door for competing professionally.

The CPC is made up of three event disciplines: speed, zone accuracy, and distance with three jumps per event, over a pond of water. The total score from each jump determines the winner. First place was awarded to Windmiller, second place to Eitniear, and third place to Moore.

The three later competed in the U.S. Nationals meet open category. Disciplines in the same speed, zone accuracy and distance determine the winner, with the top eight selected to compete in world competition. Windmiller placed seventh in the competition and will travel as a member of the U.S. Team to South Africa for competition in November.

Awards were presented following competition and the Golden Knight team members donated their cash award to both the Wounded Warrior Foundation and to the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place winners.

"The purpose for us going there (to the competition), was to represent the United States Army at an event the Golden Knights have never participated in before" said Windmiller, adding that " in competition skydiving there are several different disciplines, canopy piloting being one of them.
Canopy piloting is actually the newest event in skydiving," Windmiller said. "It's only been officially recognized in the last five years as an actual event. That being said, this is the first year that the Golden Knights have actually competed full-time and trained for the purpose of competing in this event."

For more than 48 years the Golden Knights have led the way in competition skydiving, bringing home gold as they competed across the globe. In the canopy piloting circuit, Windmiller felt as though the Golden Knights still needed to do a little catching up to those seasoned in the sport.
"We dedicated this entire year to training, going nonstop to even attempt to get close to those dedicated to the sport," Windmiller said. "We caught up a lot, but we still have a long way to go."

As for laying the groundwork for future events, Eitniear said "I hope we do for canopy piloting what we've done for other skydiving disciplines...raise the level of competition."

See related article about the Golden Knights' Assessment and Selection for 20 candidates this year at Golden Knights selection underway.

(Cheryle Rivas serves with the U.S. Army Parachute Team Public Affairs Office.)