ELOY — Skydive Arizona is one of the top skydiving locations in the country, and the United States Parachute Association has taken notice of this, naming it as the host for their National Championships event.

The event will be on Friday, Oct. 15, through Saturday, Oct. 30. Like most large gatherings, last year’s championships were forced to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, organizers felt as though now is the right time to get back in the air and competitors from around the country, as well as the world, will come together to compete for the top prizes.

USPA Executive Director and skydiver Albert Berchtold has been focusing on getting the competitors back in the air this year. He says that it is great to be back and can’t wait for people to see the talent on display at the event.

“Being able to have a nationals again is a great thing,” Berchtold said. “I think ... everybody else who competes in the sport is really excited about the opportunity to come together and compete and see all of our friends again.”

Berchtold will be both taking on his responsibilities as executive director and focusing on his preparations as a competitor. Berchtold is a 22-year skydiving veteran who has competed in the national championships for the past 16 years. Although he said it is a big undertaking for himself, he is ready to take on the challenge.

“I’ve been competing for a long time, I really love it, and don’t want to ever stop,” Berchtold said. “Now with my executive director role, in the more recent years, I have to work both of those in. But the nice thing is I have a really great staff at USPA that helps make it all happen, and I am able to balance those responsibilities and make sure that we run a great national championships, and also still manage to get a jump in myself.”

The national championships will also have an international feel, with Romanian skydiver Cornelia Mihai competing in the canopy piloting events. Mihai has been skydiving for 19 years and has traveled the world to showcase her skills.

One of the big reasons for Mihai’s appearance at the event is because of the pond that is at the Skydive Arizona facility, where Mihai will attempt to parachute just above the pond, just mere inches above the water.

“I never thought skydiving would take me on such a crazy route,” Mihai said. “The US Nationals is always one of my favorite competitions. It is a brand new pond out there in Eloy, so I am excited to check it out.”

With the competition coming up soon and running through the rest of October, Berchtold sees this as a great opportunity for people new to the sport to come out and see what a professional skydiving event is like.

“It is a really great experience,” Berchtold said. “So if you are in the area, or interested in coming to the area, you can come and see what the competition is all about — it is a very exciting time to be there.”


David Church is a reporter covering Eloy, Arizona City and sports. He can be reached at dchurch@pinalcentral.com.

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