We are thrilled to present the US Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights, Competition Teams with the 2023 Pioneers of Excellence Award!

Since 1959, the Golden Knights competition teams have fully dedicated themselves to establishing and continuing a rich and storied legacy, interwoven with that of the national and international skydiving communities. The Knights have always been exemplary role models: sportsmanship, teamwork, fitness, dedication, hard work, perseverance—all the qualities it takes to make champions. In 1959, Brigadier General Joseph Stilwell formed the Strategic Army Command Parachute Team, or STRAC, with the original mission to compete during the Cold War effort. This new U.S. all-Army team, comprised of 19 Airborne enlisted soldiers, swept the international accuracy competition circuit in what was then the Soviet-dominated sport of skydiving. In 1961, the team would be formally activated and redesignated as the United States Army Parachute Team (USAPT). The team earned the nickname “The Golden Knights” for their dominance in competition. “Golden,” signifying the gold medals the team had won; “Knights,” proving they “conquered the skies” as world champions. Over the coming decades, the accuracy competition teams evolved, creating the style and accuracy and 4-way/8-way skydiving teams and later adding canopy relative work (CRW), canopy piloting (CP) and vertical formation skydiving (VFS) teams. There is no other team in the history of skydiving that extends so far into almost every aspect of the sport. The Golden Knights competition teams sport an impressive record of more than 460 national champion, 100 world champion, 54 national and 45 world team titles. The teams have earned 2,492 gold medals, 1,307 silver medals and 750 bronze medals. Over the past 63 years, the U.S. Army Parachute Team has broken 348 world records, including military records held in the Counseil International du Sports Militaire (CISM). Their outstanding contribution to the sport has been sustained continuously since 1959.  

The Pioneers of Excellence Award will be presented at the Pioneers of Excellence Luncheon sponsored by UPT at the HOF Celebration Friday, October 6.