The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame is proud to (finally) honor the 2020 Path of Excellence Award recipients, World Team 2006 - Largest Formation World Record, and the 2022 Pioneers of Excellence Award winner, the 1970 Freefall Exhibition Team at the 2022 Hall of Fame Celebration at Skydive DeLand, October 6 - 8 (due to the pandemic, World Team 2006 was delayed in being honored). The Path of Excellence/Pioneers of Excellence are the Museum & Hall of Fame's most prestigious awards for groups, companies, organizations or teams recognizing significant contributions of enduring value to the world of skydiving. The Pioneers of Excellence was added in 2021 to recognize entities that contributed in the 70's and before.
World Team 2006 - Largest Formation World Record - Path of Excellence
“World Team 2006” World Record 400-Way – Largest Freefall Formation - February 8, 2006 over Udon Thani, Thailand was the largest multi-national sports team ever assembled to pursue a common goal. The 400-Way was the high point of the Royal Sky Celebration honoring the 60th anniversary of the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. This spectacular event was organized by bj and Bobbie Worth.
The first World Team event was in Slovakia in 1994. The journey continued with an event in Russia then two in Thailand. In 2006, World Team gathered in Udon Thani, Thailand. On the third skydive of that unbelievable February day, World Team 2006 set a new world record when it built a beautiful 400-Way formation. This amazing accomplishment broke the prior record of 357 which was set by World Team 2004. The record setting 400 skydivers exited from 26,500 feet AGL, built smoothly and methodically, held the completed formation for 4.25 seconds then began a staged breakoff from just under 7,000 feet.
World Team 2006 consisted of over 500 World Team Members from 30 nations including the formation skydivers, alpha team, videographers, documentation team members, ground staff, support team plus over 100 Royal Thai Air Force Flight and ground crew members. For the event, the flight line consisted of five C-130 Hercules aircraft, plus a sixth in reserve.
As a bonus, a few days later following the 400-Way, the team re-assembled with an additional 600 skydivers. Together, they executed a mass jump over the new international airport in Bangkok as part of the opening ceremonies for the massive new facility. During the jump, there were over 1,000 skydivers in the air at the same time.
1970 Freefall Exhibition Team - Pioneers of Excellence
In 1970, the United States Freefall Exhibition Team (USFET) demonstrated what was then called Relative Work at the World Parachute Championships in Bled, Yugoslavia, and inspired skydivers from all over the world.
Yugoslavia, the host of the 10th World Championships in 1970 was interested in having a United States Relative Work Exhibition Team to introduce big way relative work to Europe and the rest of the world. Norm Heaton, USPA director, worked with Ted Webster to set up a 10-way speed star competition to decide which 10-way team would represent USPA at the Spectator (exhibition) Event. Jerry Bird's All-Stars, a hybrid team with talented jumpers from both the Taft and Elsinore dropzones, was selected.
After winning the Ted Webster Meet as the Jerry Bird's All-Stars. the team became the United States Freefall Exhibition Team and went to the Bled, Yugoslavia World Parachute Championships joining as a contingent of the United States Parachute Team. Once there, the team jumped in the Opening Ceremonies for all the world to see and later competed in the Spectator Event and won the Bronze Medal for the United States following Russia and Czechoslovakia.
The real goal, however, was to demonstrate Relative Work as a competition event. While in Bled, there was so much enthusiasm and curiosity about Relative Work. the team felt not only welcome, but sought after by jumpers from many countries around the world. Team members from Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and other countries would come to the USFET tent to find out more about Relative Work. They were able to take Delegates from other countries Into the air on the big Russian AN-2s to actually experience Relative Work.
The United States Freefall Exhibition Team introduced Relative Work to the world not just visually, but by team members actually jumping and teaching skydivers from across the globe. It was clear that the sport of skydiving was changing and the USFET was a significant inspiration for that change.