Profile - Greg Windmiller | D-20004
by Brian Giboney
Greg Windmiller is a U.S. Army Airborne Ranger and competitor on the Golden Knights Canopy Piloting Team. He is a pioneer of swooping for the Army, competing since the Army started entering such competitions. In addition to numerous championships in accuracy, swooping and formation skydiving, he holds the world record for the speed event in canopy piloting.
Marital Status: Married to Emily
Children: a son, Gunnar
Life Philosophy: It's not what happens to you, it's how you deal with it that defines you, and no matter what, have no regrets because it could always be worse.
Team Name: Golden Knights Canopy Piloting Team
Container: Sunpath Javelin
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Velocity 84, 90, 96 and 103
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs PD 113R
AAD: Airtec Speed Cypres
Home Drop Zone: Raeford Parachute Center in North Carolina
Licenses and Ratings: A-21430, C-26353, D-20004, Static-Line and AFF Instructor, Tandem Instructor Examiner, PRO
Championships, Medals and Records:
2009 USPA Nationals: canopy piloting speed event gold
2008 World Championships of Canopy Piloting: overall bronze
2008 World Record, Canopy Piloting, fastest speed
2007 USPA Nationals: 10-way formation skydiving bronze
2002 World Military Games: men’s 4-way formation skydiving silver
2002 USPA Nationals: team sport accuracy gold
2001 USPA Nationals: open men’s style bronze, team classic accuracy silver, team sport accuracy gold
1999 and 2000 U.S. National Sport Accuracy Championship: individual gold, team silver
Total Number of Jumps: 10,000-plus
Military Freefall: 250
Formation Skydives: 1,500
Total Number of Cutaways: Four—I went 8,000 before my first one then had them all in about a two-month period while using packers. That's why I pack for myself. I haven’t had one since.
Would you rather swoop or land on an accuracy tuffet?
That’s a hard one because I love doing accuracy so much, but let’s admit it... swooping is cooler!
Of all your skydives, is there one that stands out most?
The first one, in 1993 at the Special Forces Military Freefall School (HALO). My instructor told me I was going to back off the ramp of a C-130, and I didn’t have to look down. When we got to the ramp, he told me to look down. When I refused, he told me I would be kicked out of the course if I didn’t. When I did, my knees went weak and I almost fainted. I went, and I yelled and screamed the whole way down. I didn’t do a single thing he asked of me. It was awesome!
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
Attitude: Craig Girard. Humble, professional and consistent: Jay Moledzki. Natural talent: Nick Batsch. Drive: Michael Eitniear (of the Golden Knights, currently in Afghanistan). Taught me the most: Mark Jones (ex-Golden Knight and accuracy coach).
How did you get to your current level of swooping talent?
Competing and coaching classic accuracy has helped me greatly with understanding pressurization and variables that most people don’t think about, but there is no substitute for coaching, coaching and more coaching. I have been lucky enough to receive coaching from the Fastrax swoop team, Nick Batsch and Jay Moledzki. Without their collective input, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Learn everything about your canopy, and don’t even think about downsizing until you can honestly say to yourself that there is nothing that you haven’t done to it at a safe altitude, and you can no longer get any more performance out of it. The faster you downsize, the longer it is going to take you to actually learn your canopy and the more susceptible you are to becoming a statistic.
What's the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
Take an accuracy canopy and put it pretty much anywhere I want. While performing a jumping scene with the Golden Knights for the movie “Transformers 2,” they asked me to land a canopy I had never jumped before in an area where I had to pull my arms in while flaring because it was about three-feet-by-three-feet surrounded by five-foot-tall crates.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with?
I would take my sister on a tandem. She passed away a few months before I was going to take her and her fiancé.
If you could make everyone on the planet do something to make earth a better place to live, what would it be?
Everyone on earth? Give me a nickel! Seriously—Treat everyone as if they were the one you loved.
Most embarrassing moment while in freefall or at a drop zone:
After pulling off a “miracle man” (a 360-degree turn under the risers while swooping), I walked into a tree while geeking a camera.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
Getting people to realize that the second they take a deep breath and relax, it all gets easier.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
The birth of my son.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
I believe the current rules for USPA Nationals medals don’t promote the spirit of competition, especially for competitors who aren’t in open events. If there are only three competitors then there are only two medals given out for that discipline. The competitors traveled to compete and paid the entry fee—don’t punish them because others didn’t show up. You hosted it, you reward it.
What has been your best skydiving moment?
Every time I see a student’s face after his first jump or when the proverbial light bulb goes on for someone I am coaching. My best competition moment was breaking the world record in speed during the 2008 canopy piloting world meet.
What has been your worst skydiving moment?
Being tied for first place in classic accuracy out of 100 male competitors at the World Military Games in Algeria in 2002 going into the eighth round and getting a 4 cm, which tied me with 20-something others for 27th place.
What drives your competitive spirit?
I have always been extremely competitive. It is actually one of my worst faults. I want to win at everything. It is hard to describe the feeling of having a medal being draped around your neck. It’s a cross between overwhelming pride and humility.
Explain Greg Windmiller in five words or fewer:
Reliable, competitive, friendly, entertaining and positive
What is the best thing about jumping for Uncle Sam?
Being able to represent my fellow brothers and sisters who are deployed right now, fighting to preserve the very freedom that most people take for granted every day. Every time I put on that jersey that says “Army Strong” on my chest I honestly get goose bumps.