It’s spring break week for the Black Knights Parachute Team from United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. The Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate helped to support spring training for cadets with the focus being United States Parachute Association licensing and overall canopy/ body flight skills, March 12 to 16. Military personnel such as Maj. David Dykema, deputy test division, ABNSOTD, along with the U.S. Army Parachute Team known as the Golden Knights provided coaching and ground instructions for cadets.
“We test and assess Army, Joint, and Multi-service airborne and airdrop related warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable and survivable,” said Dykema. “Every piece of equipment Soldiers use has been independently tested and evaluated to meet current and future Army needs and requirements.”
The ABNSOTD is responsible for operational testing using test parachutists and conducts airdrop certification of airborne and airdrop equipment. According to the website, the ABNSOTD is a direct descendant of the original parachute test platoon in 1940. The directorate is not only responsible for the testing of new parachutes and airborne equipment but is also chartered to certify every item of Army equipment to be airdropped, airlifted, sling-loaded, or in any way transported or delivered by Army or Air Force aircraft.
The ABNSOTD Military Freefall program supports testing of equipment and training various military groups to become better jumpers.
For the spring break training, West Point cadets get certified and caught up with learning different jumps. The training includes tandem and accelerated freefall jumps. With tandem jumps, the instructor is attached to the cadet to show them different skills in parachute jumping. With AFF jumps, the instructor is not attached, but does jump with the student during the session.
Keep up with the Golden Knights and upcoming events by visiting Get a jump on upcoming events with the Black Daggers by visiting