Tuesday 10 September

The 2002 Nationals Wagner delegation0800
Good morning everyone! Round 8 of 8-way is on a 30 minute call...

...a quick meander through my inbox...it appears that my editorial on the Golden Knights elicited quite a response, and it is overwhelmingly in favor of the Knights. I'm waiting for some replies with permission to publish some of the letters. If anyone has a specific reply they would like me to post here, please state so in the message. I have no interest in showing only one side of the argument on these pages...

Feedback my Golden Knights Editorial

I have to pipe in a couple of valid points.
First off a commercial DZ has to show a profit, or lose the right and ability to do business. The DZ's decision to sponsor a team can actually INCREASE revenue and profit by having a high caliber group of skydivers to enhance the enjoyment for others, and that in turns affects the willingness of others expend great amounts of disposable income.
If the DZ decides the sponsorship has not created he environment nor profit motives their model had hoped, they most likely will stop the sponsorship. NEITHER arguments can be said for the GK's! The public is forced to provide a stable income for folks to do what myself and many pay dearly for, to HAVE FUN! HMMMM give ME a mission like that!
I wonder what the tax-paying public would do, if given the choice, "oh, I love that word choice", would say about the ghastly expenditure on that team.
Further, the argument about what the teams have given back? C'mon! I can't name the times I have been at a DZ early and see the team bang out ten to twelve jumps and not say a word to hardly any others on the DZ, for DAYS at a time, even scoffing and brushing away the questions of others. Simple fact.
I have a friend who also was GK, who was fond of stating, "we could train a monkey to perform at those levels, provided the monkey adhered to the same regimen" and I guarantee you, many of the other skydivers paying their dollars every weekend would also.
One of my favorite memories of the GK comp. team was America's Cup at Elsinore in '98, not a single Iota of interaction or coaching the whole while they were there, they did their jumps every day prior to the event, without any significant interaction with the other jumpers. Once the jumps were done, off to the van and lookie see the cloud of our tax-dollars dust as they leave.
Arizona Airspeed shows up and immediately, they start organizing and coaching wholesale, regardless of the jumpers experience or status in the sport the DZ started cooking with only 135 jumps I did a thirteen and 15 point eight way, glad as hell I didn't have to wait for the GK to organize the load.
FURTHER, at the same event, the instant Perris Passion Eight showed up, lo and behold! EACH MEMBER of that pretty team had their very own PERSONAL G.K. COACH!!! Woohoo! I wish I had The curves and the looks it takes to get the coaching you talked about.
Sour grapes on my part? No, I have gotten everywhere I wanted to go in the sport, with the exception of a sponsored four way team. of course I had to pay my own way.
I just know a crock of fesces, especially when you try to shove it down my throat.
I SAY fine, pay for a limited amount of jumps and have the "team" serve an essential MISSION, during the week, and have them train during the weekend.
Hell they already have the best wind-tunnel in the world. I am certain none would quit, and they may even offer to stay late and play in that tunnel, I know I would.
Don't give me the crap about troop moral either, cut the team budget, and spread it into income for the military, and lets see what moral is all about.
I really had no desire to air my feelings until I saw what a pitiful stand was taken, of course I am most likely safe to assume this will never published.
I have known several GK's, some of whom I count as good friends, others have exercised their right to be less than examplery citizens, even, at times, just because they are GK.

My thoughts take 'em or leave 'em.

Your skydiving curmudgeon,

Thanks for the commentary on the mentally challenged and their attitudes towards the Knights.  Every time I have been around the Knights, it has always been a very positive time.  It gets really old hearing the same old nonsense about "our tax dollars."

Also, great job on the coverage of the Nationals.
- (no name attached)

...for the record. HELL YES the Army should get everything that they've worked for. Last time I checked, to join Airspeed, Majik, or any other team you didn't have to (before being guaranteed a slot) commit years of your life with the potential of seeing exciting and new places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Not to mention tons of PT, mandatory short hair, and (ahem) the high life of Raeford. The GK are some of the bestest guys out there, and I'm proud of their victory. Airspeed and Majik, (and everyone else who has dedicated their life to the sport) are also my heroes. Go teams.

- Kate Cooper

It's strange to me that people are so broken hearted about the "tax dollars" spent on the GKs. Shotz is quoted as saying: "...pay for a limited amount of jumps and have the "team" serve an essential MISSION, during the week, and have them train during the weekend." Our MISSION is three fold: To assist in the research and development of modern parachuting techniques, to provide world class competition parachutists, and to perform in aerial demonstrations in support of Army Public Relations and recruiting. We are performing our essential MISSION!

Our Air Force and Navy counterparts (the Thunderbirds, and Blue Angels) have about 9 jets each.... and each worth more than $30 million. Each team as more than twice the personnel than the GKs, and neither provides research and development, nor any competitors. They fly at air shows for PR and recruiting... that's it! I assure you that our budget is a spit in the bucket by comparison to either of the two jet teams. Oh and P.S. you can't beat Airspeed by training on only the weekends..

For the record, the "best wind-tunnel in the world" belongs to the Special Operations Command. It is used for "AFF-ing" soldiers before sending them to freefall jump school. When the GKs get maybe an hour or two every other month, it's like Christmas! We usually have to share the tunnel with the unit who reserved that time, and in most cases our "payment" is coaching. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen the inside of the tunnel this year.

I can't defend my teammate's actions from 4 years ago. With new people coming in and old guys leaving, the personality of a team can and does change virtually overnight. I know the GKs provided coaching, and judging at every CSL meet they attended in the last 2 years. I know they've been coaching teams here at this Nationals. What more would you have them do? Did you try asking for help? Most GKs I work with are too humble to simply walk up to a team in the middle of their dirt dive, and offer a "better way" to do it. Skydivers are arrogant by nature, and their reaction is usually defensive. Simple fact.

Blue Skies - Greg

I don't have years in this sport or lots of competition experience but I do have the privilege of calling Raeford Parachute Center my home DZ. And I can tell you what I have seen and experienced from the Golden Knights (and some retired Golden Knights) in the last couple of years. They are at every Carolina Skydiving League meet during the season where they jump, coach and provide the judging. This is on their weekends when you think they might want to have some time off to be with their families.

And when I say coaching, I mean for anyone who wants it. I was on an Introductory League (iClass) 4-way team this year which meant that everyone on the team had to have less than 300 skydives with the exception of one team member who could have an unlimited number - a sort of "built-in" coach. Our unlimited jumper was a former Golden Knight who volunteered his time (and money!) to jump with us - a bunch of novice skydivers.  Current members of the Golden Knights were available for coaching whenever we asked - even when we called one of them at home on a rainy Saturday afternoon (thanks, Kurt!). They would critique video, help us engineer skydives and creep. All we had to do was ask.

And it's not just 4-way team coaching. I've seen Golden Knights at the DZ on the weekend doing one-on-one coach jumps with people. You know why? Because someone asked them for help. And other Golden Knights come out just to fun jump, and if you ask them, you can get on a load with them and be guaranteed to learn something if you just open your ears and listen to what they have to say. It's not just one or two guys who have been helpful to me and others at the DZ - I've had coaching from guys on the 4-way teams, the tandem team, the style and accuracy team, the demo teams..........All you have to do is ask.

Jealousy about the Golden Knights seems to come from this perception that they live this dream life where they get paid (even if it is peanuts) to skydive: all the jumps are free, all their gear is paid for and they get to travel the world skydiving. But just remember, they signed their lives away to the US Army. They are soldiers, and the US Army can pull them off that USAPT and send them to fight and die for YOU at any time.

Michelle Rose

To The Readers of Omniskore Tid Bits

Dear Readers:

My name is John Hoover, leader of the Golden Knights Relative Work Team. I have seen the comments and thoughts on the recent Golden Knights victory in four-way.

Let me start by saying I completely understand the views and sentiments of those who voice opposing opinions, but I believe the major problem is a one of understanding.

Let me give you a little insight into The Golden Knights Gold Team, without pointing out the individuals.

Three members of the team have been in combat, with tours in Panama, Desert Storm, Iraq and Bosnia.

Between all the members, we have 40 years of military experience. This time includes all of the things we have to do to be in the Army, as well as conducting the thousands of jumps it take to be competitive on a national level.

Unlike most teams who have an unlimited number of potential members, ours is comprised of the best military skydivers that are currently serving on the Golden Knights. This means that in two years our team has to achieve the same level of speed and experience others have had years to build.

My teammates have worked extremely hard over the past two years and I am proud to be numbered with them.

Our goal is the same for all competitive jumpers; we want to make our sport the best it can become. This means that we have to have to good close competitions for everyone to watch and grow. Good competitions are usually comprised of two or more good teams – a competition with only one professional team is not a competition, but more of a demonstration.

When the Army first formed the Golden Knights, one of its assigned missions was to compete on a national and international level for the betterment of the sport. This is all we are trying to accomplish and in doing so we are proud to represent the United States at the next World Meet.

Two other things I need to say that are on a more personal level, but do pertain to some of the comments that are being passing around.

In years past the Golden Knights have concentrated so much on training that we ignored spreading goodwill around the skydiving community. I have tried to remedy this by dedicating days of fun jumping at each training camp we attend. We have also produced videos that have been handed out along with free seminars and coaching to teams that ask at the proper time. I have also been writing for Skydiving Magazine, sharing our training techniques and plans. These things along with supporting the National Skydiving League are some of the things we are doing to help our sport grow.

Finally, we were the big underdogs coming into this meet. After Majik’s and Airspeed’s performances in Russia, I was hoping to just stay close to them. As a Christian, I believe God has given us a great victory; one I am truly grateful for.

- John Hoover

It is time to put this Golden Knight thing into perspective. I have played hackey sack with the Golden Knights. I have drank more than my share with the Golden Knights. I have done numerous nationals where the Golden Knights were in attendance. They have always been courteous, friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, professional, and more than willing to help our pick-up 16-way, 10-way, 20-way (back then) team with complete impartiality, enthusiasm and dedication. I have made many, many jumps with members of Airspeed at numerous events. They are a class act! And every member of the Golden Knights that I have ever dealt with is of the same cloth. They are not great people because they are professionals. They are professionals because they are great people. I sense that most of the people expressing their concerns about our tax dollars supporting this team have not been in the sport very long. 4-way and 8-way, if not relative work itself would not be what it is today if it were not for teams like Mirror Image and the Golden Knights of the 70's, 80's, 90's and today. Note: For those new to the sport and enjoying anywhere from 4 to 15 points in time in 4-way and/or 8-way. Please review - "past world champions". YOU are there because of these people. As far as the money actually being spent? The federal government spends billions of dollars a day on crap that you whiners probably don't even know about. So before you go blasting our national champions and waving your flag of "whatever", you should do some research into where your tax dollars really go before you start bitching.

I'm normally a very quiet guy, however when john Hoover has to post an e-mail to protect the integrity of our US team, then I'm gonna' say something.

Joe (BJ) Helfer D-11905

It appears that folks feel I am calling the GK fellas less than what they are.

Let me point out I know they are exemplary soldiers, and even competitors, and on that point I wish to sincerely congratulate the men for their outstanding performance at the nationals this year. Their excellence in the sport technically has never been disputed.

Also, let it not for even a moment be thought or felt that I do not sincerely thank the men who have served in combat, to my dying day I thank not only them, but all who have gone before them and will surely follow while protecting us here at home.

And while the GK Comp. team has undoubtedly helped with the development of the sport, I wonder why Uncle Sam has not developed teams to "bring excellence and improve" sports like football, tennis, polo, baseball and numerous others.

Perhaps because it is not mission related! When was the last time a Special Forces team had to revert to a random or block sequence in freefall?

While folks are spewing their support forth or bashing my thoughts, I implore them to stop, and think, what ESSENTIAL MISSION to the United States Army does the development of competitive RW skills or the research and development of the latest Z-po high performance canopy fulfill?

I am sorry, but you cannot justify the expense of the Comp team, once again I must re-iterate, the Demo team is a dynamic recruiting tool, when it Demo's for the general public, not at some General's party.

And when the fellow mentioned the Blue Angels, and another jet team, did he ever miss the mark! First off both the Air Force and Navy have Parachute Demonstration teams, Neither of which burn the dollars with the minimal recruiting impact per dollar as the GK demo team does. To that gentleman I say, next time just try to compare apples to apples, not an orange to a plum.

Again, I want to thank all the GK Comp. team for their service in combat, they are positively the elite and best in the world, and I am forever in undying gratitude, THOSE missions are what the army and our tax dollars are all about.



Tim responds: The U.S. Army sponsors, with tax dollars, many athletic teams that compete in national and international competitions, non-mission-related sports like boxing and others. And I would submit that precision skydiving is mission related and a sport that is well suited for military sponsorship. Many countries have their own army parachute teams -- we are simply blessed with the best one. - Tim

I would like to start out by saying Congrats to BOTH teams in the 4 way event. It was great to see the Gold team win and the Black team place fourth. I have had the opportunity to get to know several of the GK both past and present and haven't had a bad experience yet. It's sad to hear people complaining about our military on the eve of Sept 11th. No matter what part our soldiers are filling in the military they are the greatest asset America has! Stop for just a moment and take a look at what we have in America. This is provided courtesy of the United States Military. The members of GK are part of that. Every member of the team is first and formost a soldier. They represent some of the best in the military and if they dont have the soldier skill's as well as the skydiving skill's they will never be part of the team. Personally I am very happy to see the Knights have such an excellent showing at the nationals and look forward to them representing the United States to the World.

- Henry Daily

Huh? What competition? Oh yeah, those Majikly Frosted Juggs are pulling away from the pack in Intermediate 8-way, and the Knights just posted a 17 on round 8...

Round 10 is on call, so it looks like we should wrap up 8-way today, and guess what, no FS on the schedule for tomorrow!

The Style & Accuracy competition -- the Classics -- is under way this morning and I will try, TRY, to have results posted soon.

Not much in the way of pictures today because T1 has gone home and I'm here all alone. Any help from the peanut gallery? Bring me some photos to post!

The 2002 Nationals video ordering links are now up. I would suggest that you hold off ordering for a while, unless you just want me to hold on to your money for a couple of months ;-) Again, any of you camera flyers out there with some extra "eye candy" you'd like to share, please dub it to the master deck along with your name and address and I'll be sure to give you credit and mail you a free copy of the video.

I have to put in a serious plug for Arizona Vengeance. This is a group of weekend warriors, not professional skydivers (except for captain Dan BC), who put in a solid year of training and went toe to toe against the big boys here at SDC. They  just put up a solid 16 on round 9 and they are very much in the hunt for that bronze medal, no small feat in this tough 8-way division. After 9 rounds, their scoring average is a mere 1.25 below that of the Knights, who did their own share of 8-way training this year. They need to make up a couple of points to catch DeLand Majik 9 on round 10.

Well, Majikly Frosted Juggs has nailed down the Intermediate gold medal, and now the Super Dogs just need a score of 4 to win the silver, and they do just that with a 6 in round 10, and Glad He 8 Her takes the bronze. Meanwhile, I'm taking a crash course online on how to make DVDs of the nationals videos, I think I'll be able to offer them this year.

AND the final round of 8-way Open is being judged, Jack Berke's Deguello squad has done some really nice skydiving this year (as usual) and they just did an 11 on their final round...they just announced that the 8-way awards ceremony will be at 1900 (7 p.m.) tonight...

Ladies and germs, I present to you a totally unofficial photo of Team USA for 2003 (I'm pretty sure there will be one or two different bodies in there):

Arizona Vengeance just turned in a truly stellar effort on round 10 for a score of 17, so Majik will need a 16 to win the bronze...here they go...wow, they have an awesome jump as well, an 18 to seal the medal. Vengeance is going to go home without a medal, but what a great effort by those guys. And just like that, we're done here for a while -- no FS going on until Thursday. Congratulations Airspeed 8, and I'm ducking out for a long lunch break!

The webmaster is going to sign off the air until the awards this evening and go spend some QT with Amy and little Ryan. ;-)

Just a quick...and then, the AV geeks came in, the awards ceremony for 8-way, with a cool video compilation of the winners...there will be little or no coverage tomorrow, as no FS is scheduled, but I will be coming in to post the Accuracy scores from today. Thank you all for the email feedback, good and bad (mostly good!), and we'll see you back here soon. Good night!

©2002 Chief Engineer "T1" Ted Wagner | Webmaster "T2" Tim Wagner