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. 

The Pioneers of Excellence Award is specifically for entities that contributed in the 70's and before.  Eligible candidates include groups, companies, organizations or teams that have made exceptional and noteworthy contribution(s) to the sport of skydiving in the form of development, evolution and preservation of skydiving through: Innovation; Performance and/or Competitive Excellence; Leadership; Education; Safety; Sponsorship and/or Philanthropy; Aviation; Design, Invention, and/or Manufacturing; and Sport Promotion.  The Pioneers of Excellence Award will be presented at the Pioneers of Excellence Luncheon, sponsored by UPT, Friday, October 7, at Skydive DeLand.   

The Path of Excellence Award is awarded to entities who contributed to the world of skydiving in the 1980's and beyond.  Due to the pandemic, the 2020 Path of Excellence recipients, the 2006 World Team 400-way Largest Formation World Record team, were not able to be honored so they will be celebrated at the 2022 HOF Celebration. The awards will be presented at the Path of Excellence Tribute & BBQ sponsored by Sun Path Products, Inc., Friday evening, October 7, at the world famous Daytona Beach Bandshell on Daytona Beach.  

The 1970 Freefall Exhibition Team:  

Ted Webster - Team Sponsor 
Ron Bluff - Team Leader
Jerry Bird - Team Captain
Carl Boenish -  Team Photographer
Ray Cottingham
Joe Morgan 
Stan Troeller
Mike Milts
Russ Benefiel
Max Kelly
Sam Alexander 
Donna Wardean
Bob Feuling
Hal Hurley
Dick Gernand


Click the Celebration Tab to learn more about the Skydiving Hall of Fame Celebration at Skydive DeLand, October 6 - 8, 2022. 


Photo Courtesy of USPA/Parachutist