Dan BC reflects back over three decades of high level intricate formations
“At the risk of totally dating myself – which I guess is really no risk at this point – I’d love to share a little history with you… “
In 1992, before there was any discipline known as Freeflying, I organized the first Perris Airmoves Invitational. The idea being to collect a bunch of 4 and 8way FS competitors, do a few days of really challenging 16ish ways and then put everyone together on the last day for the craziest formation I could come up with. A formation so intricate that only a group of this experience could do it. It proved to be so much fun that the format has survived for decades in the form of the Arizona Challenge and P3 Power Play.
Over the same time freeflying was born and has developed much along the same path that FS did in its early years. The freefly pioneers, coaches and organizers have often looked at what the FS jumpers did as they came up with VFS and large FF formation jumps in the hundreds!!
I have to admit that after 29 years of doing events like the P3 Power Play and trying to think of new creative formations to do on the last day I was scratching my head coming up with the plan for the 2021 Power Play. The freeflyers saved me!!
In April my good friends Andy Malchiodi and Matt Fry organized the Elsinore Echelon Paradigm Shift event and did some amazing, sport changing 3D FF jumps that were out of this world. I’d never seen anything like it!!
I was inspired by what I saw and wanted to try something similar with FS. I called Andy and picked his brain to find out everything they had learned so that I didn’t make the same mistakes trying to reinvent the wheel.
During the three days of 18ways organized by Craig Girard, Doug Forth and myself I did a few jumps experimenting with building a spiral formation on the flat and then stretching it up and down to a vertical distance that averaged about 18 inches per person or 27 feet in total!
We discovered the obvious, that if you have a spiral of a certain diameter on the flat and stretch it out vertically then the diameter has to become smaller, or the spiral has to unwind. As the diameter was already as small as it was going to be we had to plan for the unwind.
Fortunately amongst the Power Play team were a few scientists and one handy astronaut. Mary Ellen Weber did the calculations at night and figured out how many feet the spiral would have to unwind if we stretched out to a distance of one to one and a half feet per person, which on a 54-way is as big as 81 feet vertically. We put that calculation into the dirtdive and it worked!! Maybe there is something to math and science after all. (I would have done all these calculations myself but I was surrounded with people way smarter than me. I was smart enough to let them do the math. Truth be told, I had no idea what the calculations were.)
We had no idea how to film this animal but we had Craig O’Brien and Norman Kent on video and if they can’t do it it can’t be done. They did it!!
As it turned out the P3 Power Play was a blast as always. The three different organizers each have unique types of jumps they like to do, so everyday was different. Regarding 3D jumps, we have only scratched the surface. Thanks to Andy, Matt and the Paradigm Shift team for the inspiration!!
The images in this article were chosen by Dan to represent the evolution of high level formations over 3 decades
- Be CALM! - 4th August 2022
- Let’s Talk About FEAR - 18th January 2022
- Take Charge! - 16th August 2021
- P3 Power Play 2021 - 15th July 2021
- One Big Family - 10th June 2021
- Let’s talk Canopy COLLISIONS - 18th May 2021
- Safety Culture - 29th April 2021
- P3 Winter Fling - 6th March 2021
Please check out my book 'Above All Else' here