Big-way Selection

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What are organisers of invitational events looking for? 

How can you qualify and be invited to join the party?

Sequential Games jump over Skydive Algarve
Angelo Declerck by Dennis Sattler

Angelo Declerck, the enthusiastic, colourful European big-way organiser, has written a short article about how he selects people for an “Angelo’s School of Big-way” event. If you’re interested in joining his events, or any other big-way event, this is a useful and interesting read, as most organisers have almost exactly the same criteria…

Selecting a group is not ‘first come first served’. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind. Let’s go through some (there are more, but let’s go through the main ones). You will see why I’m sometimes strict/an arsehole about selection!

Big-way is something you should earn and work for. Flying well in smaller groups like 4-way is such an important factor before becoming a good big-way flyer. I see more and more people doing big-ways without having decent 4-way skills. How can you fly in a big-way (which is basically multiple smaller groups put together) without any 4-way experience? Ever thought about that? Yes, you can push/hang/drag on the formation, but the goal is to fly a big-way! 😊

Everyone must fly to keep the shape of this formation, no hanging or dragging!
Photo: Willy Boeykens

Important Factors for selection


This is the primary concern and always applies to every event. I will stop people jumping if serious safety issues are happening or could happen. There’s always a chance to get back on events though if someone shows an improvement in safety and awareness. 

Goal and/or ability level

Every event will be announced with a goal or level. This means that we aim to get that goal with the selected group. Participants applying want to achieve that goal. They have their mind set and achieving anything less than that goal leaves a feeling of a disappointment (I have experienced this in the past like many others amongst us).
To avoid that I have to be selective and careful. Quality above quantity.
Sometimes I have to be stricter; it depends on the event or goal.

  • If you want to have fun – I would recommend boogies (nothing against fun)
  • If you want to learn or try new things –  I would recommend a camp
  • If you want completions/challenges, I recommend an invitational or a goal event
You need experience to be safe landing by the Pyramids
Photo: Angelo’s 9-way by Maverick Verdegem


It’s a common thing to overestimate our level of experience and sometimes I see that in the applications coming in. Because of that I try to keep up with what people are doing (what kind of jumps/tunnel time) and also keep a file with some details about each person. This is just for me to have a rough idea of someone’s level if they would apply for an event.

I do NOT pick friendship above quality. Some people might have figured that one out already. It’s not a nice feeling to deny a friend a slot, but it’s sometimes necessary. I have to think about the goal we are aiming for and about all the other people joining, because we are one team. 

It’s important to consider costs as well. A 20-way jump costs about €800. If we do 16 jumps on an event, I have to keep in mind that that’s €12,800 of people’s hard-earned money!

Within a strong big-way team there is sometimes room for a few “weaker” flyers if these people are slotted very carefully, but this is a small percentage of the group. So, depending on the event, this is a very important factor to consider.

A special jump arranged by Skydive Hohenems, in Austria
Photo: Antje Grube


For a big-way camp this is not important. Here you can make mistakes. It’s the perfect opportunity to get better and learn new slots and skills. It’s also the way to get more consistent in your flying. 

For an invitational group or event with a clear goal, consistency is important. Going low or making major mistakes is not acceptable here. It does happen occasionally of course; we are all human and nobody is perfect! But you should be able to deal with it; come back up after going low or fix your mistakes. On these events we want completions!


The base is as important as the divers. Without a strong base, we have no big-way. Not everyone is able to fly every slot so I need to look carefully at the abilities of each person applying. Finding a good balance makes a perfect, strong group.

Improving flying skills in the tunnel will work wonders for your big-way ability
Photo: Pascal Lodens


As I said in the beginning; 4-way skills play such an important role in big-way. Please look at your 4-way (and/or 8way) skills and judge for yourself. Tunnel is a very helpful tool and is available throughout the year. Make use of this. In the winter in some countries, it’s not possible to skydive so use this time to fly in the tunnel. Even booking some 1:1 coaching can help improve flying skills (drills: follow the leader, up and overs, stability training etc…)

Seriously explore this option if you fly less than 30 minutes in the tunnel per year. You might find it amazing!

Group dynamics

If I organise an event, then this is in my holiday time from my full-time job. Therefore, I find it very important for the group and for myself to prioritise group dynamics. It’s not only jumping that’s important but also having a nice group of people who like to socialise together, have a drink at the end of the day and share some stories.

Having a good vibe on the ground is as important as skydiving ability
Photo:  Maverick Verdegem

Open to learn, coachable

When you join an event, it’s usually to make progress as a group. Therefore, we as organisers need to give personal feedback; sometimes positive; sometimes negative. How do you take this feedback and deal with it? Can you stay open to learning and developing yourself further?

New participants

This is a difficult one that I’m still struggling with. In the past I have accepted new people based on references from other organisers. Unfortunately, this hasn’t always been successful and I’ve had to ask people to step down from the group. Therefore, I am now a little more careful and cautious with selection, especially if I haven’t jumped with someone before and haven’t seen any videos of their flying. It’s important as a participant not to take this personally. I always welcome new people on a camp or a lower-level event to see/feel their flying abilities and character. 

Start with a smaller group or a skills camp, to show your ability and attitude
Photo: Antoine Alacusos

Joining multiple events

It might seem like we just want to take more money from you but that’s not true! If you apply for more than one event, we know that you are motivated and want to stay current.

Joining multiple events can have a lot of benefits. You will jump with some of the same people who you will get to know better. This not only creates strong bonds and friendships, but also strengthens the group. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and you will get to know each other’s. Once you know these, you can adjust and help each other where needed and work together as a team.

So, these are just a few factors that I have to keep in mind when selecting a group 😊

Pleasing everyone? No, that’s not possible! As you can see, jumping is the easiest part as an organiser!

Photo: Antje Grube
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Meet: Angelo Declerck

Angelo is a Belgian FS and CRW enthusiast, holder of many big-way records.

He flies PD, UPT, Tonfly helmets, L&B and Intrudair.

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