The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame is proud to honor Arizona Airspeed as the museum's 2021 Path of Excellence Award recipient and Para Gear Equipment Co., Inc. as the Pioneers of Excellence recipient. (Please note the 2020 Path of Excellence recipient, World Team 2006 - 400-Way Largest Formation World Record, will be honored at the 2022 Hall of Fame Celebration in DeLand Florida October 6 - 8.) The Path of Excellence/Pioneers of Excellence are the Museum & Hall of Fame's most prestigious awards for groups, companies, organizations or teams recognizing significant contributions of enduring value to the world of skydiving. The Pioneers of Excellence was added in 2021 to recognize entities that contributed in the 70's and before.
Arizona Airspeed - Path of Excellence
The original Airspeed team was formed with one goal in mind: to bring the 4-way World Championship Sword “Excalibur” back to the USA. But once the team was together we realized we could do more, wanted to do more. We wanted to push our sport to new levels and share everything we learned with anyone who would listen. We loved and appreciated our skydiving family and wanted to contribute to that community by sharing our love for this amazing sport with them. In victory and defeat we strived to be like the athletes and sportsman we admired. We believed, and still do, that from the time every person who shares this crazy passion for human flight walks on to a drop zone, they should be treated like family with love and respect. All this was more important than winning. But we wanted it all. We wanted to do all this and win. And I’m proud to say we often did.
But we had no idea what we had started. With the unending support of the Hill Family and Skydive Arizona, the team was able to continue long past its original line up. Some members stayed on and picked up new teammates. The new teammates became the veterans and trained rookies. The team built and rebuilt. Airspeed members developed the unique skill of being able to see the soul of a world champion in a young competitor. They knew how to turn that soul loose.
For 27 years, the Airspeed teams have inspired and motivated skydivers of all disciplines and levels. The sport has been richer for all they’ve contributed. Each Airspeed teammate has had the chance to become a better athlete and more importantly a better person because of what the sport and our community has given us. For this, we are forever grateful. Dan BC
Para Gear Equipment Co., Inc. - Pioneers of Excellence
Para Gear Equipment Co. Inc. is honored and humbled to receive the first Pioneers of Excellence Award. Para Gear was founded in 1960 by Lowell Bachman and is celebrating its 61st year of doing business! Lowell was born and raised in Chicago, entered the military at 20 years old, became a member of the 82nd Airborne Division and later on the Special Forces. While still in the Army Reserves, Lowell started Para Gear in his parent’s basement, moving then to its original commercial location in Chicago and eventual mainstay in Skokie, Illinois.
We have been very fortunate to have staff who have worked here for many years, even as long as 35+ years. Those people have helped grow Para Gear well beyond its humble beginnings to skydiving equipment sales that serve customers worldwide. Most important, however, are the contributions that Para Gear and its staff have made to the athletes, events and skydiving industry over its lifetime.
Over the years, Para Gear has been seen at numerous National and World Skydiving competitions along with helping to support the U.S. team. Para Gear was a founding member of the Parachute Equipment Industry Association (PEIA) in 1977, which was later renamed the PIA. Paul Thompson served as the rigging chair and organized the Rigger Conventions from 1987 -1989. Paul developed the idea of a Symposium combining the Rigger Convention and manufacturer's exhibits to draw more people. The first PIA Symposium was held in February 1991 and Paul received the Don Beck Award for the concept of the Symposium having withstood the test of time on its 10th anniversary.
Lowell was an original and longtime trustee of the museum followed by Dori and now Curt. Para Gear continues to be a supporter of the International Skydiving Museum and is excited to help get it built! Curt Bachman