100-Way Canopy Formation World Record Team Honored with

2019 Path of Excellence Award

The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame is proud to honor the 100-Way
Canopy Formation World Record Team with the museum’s Path of Excellence Award. The presentation will be made  at the 2019 Hall of Fame Celebration at Skydive Perris,
Perris, California, on Friday afternoon, October 18, prior to the Welcome BBQ.  There
will also be a tribute jump honoring the awardee.

          Many groups, companies and teams have played a prominent role in the growth and
development of our sport with their exceptional contribution in the form of innovation,
performance and/or competitive excellence, leadership, education, safety, sponsorship
and/or philanthropy, aviation, design/invention and/or manufacturing, sport promotion,
and photograph/videography. The Path of Excellence Award is specifically for entities –
groups, companies, organizations or teams for significant contribution(s) of enduring high
value to the world of skydiving and is a prestigious award in both name and distinction.
Award nominees are voted on by supporters of the museum including ambassadors,
counselors, trustees, members of the Hall of Fame, and major donors. 

        On November 21st, 2007 the world’s largest canopy formation was built over the
Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales, a record that still stands today. The formation
was so large that the Miami Air Traffic Control Center monitored the formation on radar
to keep other aircraft from coming into close proximity to the formation. The formation
weighed 20,388 pounds and was 290 feet tall and 175 feet wide. In comparison, a
747-400 jet is only 231 feet long and the Wright brother’s first flight was not quite one
third the distance as the formation is tall. Even though the 100 way formation was built
in 2007, the journey to this record started 6 years earlier.

        It all began at the end of 2001 when Chris Gay was talking to a couple of friends
about the last world record of 46 skydivers back in 1994. The conversation started with
questions of how difficult it is to organize such an event and ended with an agreement
to organize a 50 way canopy formation the following year. Little did they know this
would lead to a 5 year road to the 100 way Canopy Formation Largest Formation
World Record.

        The first event was in 2002 with the goal of setting a new US record. With the
help of Betty Hill of the Florida Skydiving Center and Paul Fayard of Fayard
Enterprises, the organizers had an outstanding place to host the event and a great
fleet of aircraft to jump from. When not only 1, but 5 50-way canopy formations were
built during the same day and an unofficial world record 56-way, it was realized with
proper design, training and organization that the elusive triple digit 100 way canopy
formation could be possible. The most difficult part would be convincing the canopy
formation community that these ideas were necessary. However, following such a
successful event gave the leverage and credibility that was needed to convince the
community that changes were needed in technique and equipment. Even so it was
an uproar when the announcement was made for standard slick jumpsuits, line sets
and a given wing loading of 1.30-1.375 based on your position in the formation. It was
explained for the safety of the group anyone wanting to be on the 2003 64 way world
record attempts would have to sign and abide by a contract. This event was, once again,
a complete success of not only multiple 64-way formations in the same day, but a
70-way formation the following day as well. After that success, the group saw the
importance of correct engineering of the formation, proper techniques, and
standardized equipment.

        During the next couple of attempts, the design and engineering of the formation
was critical in order to have a stable formation upon its completion. This meant it maybe
quasi-stable during part of the build and would require the jumpers to learn to fly it during
this phase. This was achieved by using tight jumpsuits in the center of the formation and
baggy jumpsuits on the outside of the formation. Also, standard line trims and lengths
were required. Lastly, learning where to place the older and slower canopies versus
the newer or faster canopies. A better way to communicate the starburst breakdown
to the jumpers was also needed and for this task, Kirk Vanzandt volunteered.
Performance Designs help in keeping their PD Lightning demo parachutes available
and also assisted with quick turnaround for repairs that were critical over the years and
during training and the actual events. Rusty Vest inspected and assessed each Lightning
parachute at these events to place each canopy in the best place in the formation based
on wear and age. The above changes along with newer training and docking techniques
and standard wing loading helped build great flying 81 and 85 way canopy formation in
2005 and a 100 way canopy formation in 2007.

        The 100 Way World Record utilized five aircraft, the first aircraft dropped 9 jumpers
from 20,000 feet. The second dropped 27 jumpers from 18,000 feet. The third dropped
29 jumpers from 16,000 feet and the final two aircraft dropped the remaining 35 jumpers
from 13,000 feet. The formation took approximately 11 minutes and 30 seconds to build
and was held for 12 seconds. It was completed on the fifth attempt and captured on HD
video by seven videographers from around the world. The formation consisted of jumpers
from 14 countries including 56 from the United States, 7 from Australia, 7 from Germany,
6 from the Netherlands, 6 from Great Britain, 5 from Russia, 3 from Canada, 2 from Brazil,
2 from Egypt, 2 from France, 1 from Argentina, 1 from Belarus, 1 from Belgium and 1 from
        Special thanks to Kirk Vanzandt, Betty Hill, Paul Fayard, Rusty Vest, and Performance
Designs for their support and assistance with this journey to the 100-way. The
videographers that captured the incredible images that showcased the 100 Way CF
World Record to the world were Bruno Brokken, Gustavo Cabana, JC Colclasure,
Norman Kent, Keith MacBeth, Pam Pangburn, and Bryan Scott.