The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame is proud to honor the 2023 Path of Excellence Award recipients, Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS) and the 2023 Pioneers of Excellence Award winner, the US Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights, Competition Teams at the 2023 Hall of Fame Celebration at Skydive DeLand, October 5 - 7. 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.
Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS) - Path of Excellence
Skydivers Over Sixty, a subgroup of Parachutists Over Phorty Society, was formed in 1992 at the annual POPS Wintermeet held at Jimmy Godwin’s drop zone in Umatilla, Florida. The first SOS 10-Way included many notables of the sport, such as Max Miensopust, Danny Hupert, Bill Wood, Lew Sanborn, Pat Moorehead, Tom Morrison, Bob Sinclair, J.D. Williams, Len Zak and Walter Ross, some who are still active jumpers. The occasion was a celebration of the 60th birthday of SOS founder Pat Moorehead, and the decision was made that all dues and sales from the SOS store would be donated to support the U.S. Parachute Team Trust Fund. In the ensuing 27 years, SOS has donated over $32,000 to the fund. In addition, SOS has donated over $5,000 to the International Skydiving Museum. Interestingly, SOS includes people with thousands of jumps and some with just a few, and they do what they do because of the camaraderie and good times. SOS takes great pride in knowing that many skydivers who reach this special age continue to hone their skills and actively participate in POPS and SOS competitions around the world. The World POPS Meet has, for many years, included a SOS Division, and the U.S. World SOS teams have collected gold several times. The U.S. chapter has also inspired many other countries to form their own versions of SOS with the same results: camaraderie and good times. SOS has inspired skydivers of “a certain age” to remain active in the sport—or to rejoin the fun after years of not jumping because of various issues. There are over 2,650 members of SOS from 30 countries, most still skydiving. And they truly believe that “60 is the new 40.”
SOS will be honored at the Path of Excellence BBQ sponsored by Sun Path Products Inc. during the 2023 Hall of Fame Celebration at Skydive Arizona the weekend of October 5 - 7.
US Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights, Competition Teams - Pioneers of Excellence
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.