FAI World Air Games

11 Dec 2015

Skydiving for beginners: at introduction to Parachuting disciplines

Think skydivers just jump out of a plane, freefall for a bit then float down to the ground? Here at the FAI World Games, there's a lot more to it than that.

There are about 20 parachuting gold medals up for grabs (several of which have already been claimed for the Canopy Piloting event), spread across six disciplines. Here's our five-minute guide to the various competitions taking place.


Canopy Piloting 
Also known as swooping, Canopy Piloting is split into four events: Speed, Accuracy, Distance and Freestyle.

Here in Dubai, the athletes were also competing for Combined and Team medals - both of which were won by Team USA. In most events, competitors glide across the swooping pond - a shallow pool of water set up in front of the landing strip.

Formation Skydiving 
The Formation Skydiving discipline is split into four events here at the FAI World Air Games: 4-way Open, 4-way Female, 8-way, 4-way Vertical.

Points are awarded for the formations created in the air within a set freefall time of between 30 and 50 seconds.

Teams consist of four or eight people, who must grip each others legs and/or arms to form human patterns as quickly and cleanly as possible, all while descending at high speeds.

There is always an extra skydiver jumping alongside the team to video the formations for the judges.

Canopy Formation 
The Canopy Formation competition in Dubai includes 2-way Sequential and 4-way Rotation competitions. Canopy formation skydivers fly in close proximity, allowing them to form stunning formations by "docking" on each other's parachutes.

Accuracy Landing 
The FAI World Air Games Accuracy Landing competition includes a team event, plus individual medals for junior competitors.

The competitors' aim is to hit a 2cm target placed on the ground in the middle of a padded "tuffet" and be awarded zero points - the best possible score in events of this kind.

Artistic Events

 Freestyle Skydiving and Freeflying are the two events under the Artistic Events umbrella.

In Freeflying, skydivers fly as a pair and favour more unusual positions, such as head-to-earth or feet-to-earth.

Freestyle skydivers also compete in teams of two, with one member performing acrobatic manoeuvres and the other filming their performance. The camerawork counts towards the pair's score.

Speed Skydiving 
Hurtling towards the ground at speeds of up to 500km or more might not be everyone's cup of tea. But for competitors in the Speed Skydiving event, it's all in a day's work.

Speed skydivers' average speed is measured within a 1,000m zone some 1,500m above the ground. They accelerate to top speed in this zone, before braking again as they get closer to the ground.

By Jess Bown

Photos: James Pagram and Marcus King / FAI Media Team

Photos: Marcus King / FAI Media Team

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