The Army Golden Knights
The greatest parachute team on the planet may be the US Army’s Golden Knights. These amazing aerialists can trace their roots back nearly 60 years. They’ve been wowing crowds and winning competition with their incredible stunts and tricks from the very beginning. Their name shows exactly who they are. The “golden” represents the color of the medals they win, and the knights represents their goal of conquering the skies they jump into. Since their inception, the team has won 2,148 gold medals in international and national competition and broken 348 world records.
The Army’s Air Ambassadors
These daredevils spend a lot of time on the road. They’re traveling for more than 270 days a year, performing for audiences around the world in more than 100 shows. In any given year, they reach about 12 million people both nationally and internationally. The Golden Knights have two demonstration teams, the Gold team and the Black team. Each team is made up of 12 members from different parts of the Army. Their constant travel and far reach has caused people to name them the “Army’s Goodwill Ambassadors to the World.”
What It Takes To Become A Member
Anyone enlisted in the Army can try out for the group if they meet the requirements. The requirements include having a clean military and civilian record, and at least 100 military or civilian jumps. Those who have what it takes must go through an intense six-week program where applicants complete physical training, technical classes, and 150-200 jumps. Many of the participants lose 5-10 pounds due to the intensity and rigor of the course.
Individuals who complete the program must learn the team’s history, as well as a 13- page script for the shows word for word, and public relations and speaking training. Those individuals selected from this group are “knighted” and spend a year on probation before becoming fully-fledged members.
Where They Started:
The Golden Knights started out as the Strategic Army Corps Sport Parachute Team, created by Brigadier General Joseph Stilwell in 1959. Nineteen Airborne Soldiers from different military units made up the original team, and came together to compete in the newly developed sport of skydiving. The team was formed to compete with the Soviet Union, which was the undisputed king of the sport. The Knights had their first demonstration in Danville, Virginia, before going on to compete in international competitions. They also helped the military develop new parachuting equipment and techniques. In 1961, they were renamed the United States Army Parachute Team by the Department of Defense. Today, the 90 members who make up the team are housed at Fort Bragg.