The Canopy Formation event is an exciting and fast-moving competition between teams of four parachutists. Once clear of the drop aircraft, the team members deploy their parachutes immediately and build a formation with the four parachutes in contact and stacked one on top of another as quickly as possible. Once the stack is established, the top parachutist in the stack lets go and flies to the bottom to connect with the three that remained together and complete the four man formation again. This is repeated as often as possible during the 90 seconds allowed to each team. The accurate and rapid manoeuvres performed by each parachutist require an extremely high level of skill and excellent judgement.
The best score will go to the team that manages to complete the highest number of successfully completed formations in 90 seconds. A successful formation is achieved when all four parachutists and the canopies are in contact with each other.
The team’s performance is recorded on video by the fifth team member who exits the aircraft with the team and films the descent from alongside his team members. The judges examine the team’s video to establish the number of times each team achieved a successful formation with their four canopies together.
Canopy Formation started in the early eighties with the development of new square canopies which were highly manoeuvrable and allowed the pilot much greater control. With the new square parachutes it became easier to dock with another square parachute than with the round classic parachutes in common use at the time. The sport evolved into two different competitions: Rotation, as a speed event, building the same formation as many times as possible; and Sequential, where speed is still an issue but a compulsory predetermined sequence of formations is performed. The formations are chosen by the event judges from a pool of known and established formations.
“A fast-moving parachuting team race against time”
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