The 3rd Annual Freefly Money Meet was held from January 29-31 at Skydive Arizona. The competition was sponsored by Airtec GMBH, Arrow Dynamics, FlyAway Wind Tunnel, Fliteline Systems (makers of Reflex containers), DLT Designs (maker of Sky Skins Jumpsuits), Arizona Freeflight, Inc., AnimalHouse.com, ATCALL, Milk Marketing, Larsen & Brusgaard (makers of Pro-Dytter), Sun Path, Rigging Innovations, Gravity Gear, Flite Suits, and Skydive Arizona.
A total of 13 teams, 5 teams in the open division and 8 teams in the novice division, entered the competition. Competitors received a Goodie bag which contained a DZ Wallet by Rigging Innovations, rubber bands, SunPath pull up cords, Pro-Dytter sticker, animalhouse.com CD with soundtrax and music videos, animalhouse.com stickers, Milk brochures, 12 different milk recipes, a 20 minute prepaid phone card from ATCALL and more. To accommodate pickup teams that did not have a camera flyer, a pool of three camera flyers (Steve Curtis, Marc Stein, and Jason Peters) was organized and randomly drawn for each of those teams not having a camera flyer.
With perfect Skydive Arizona weather, competition began around noon on Friday January 29 after a competitor's meeting held in the morning. When she was asked if she needed any miking for delivering the competitor briefing, Meet Director Kama exclaimed, "I am a megaphone!" During competition, freeflyers jumped from a Twin Otter at 13,500'. Under the direction of chief judge Omar Alhegelan, Walter Murphy, Tamara Koyn, and Mike Ortiz judged the competition.
Competing under the rules that were proposed to the IPC, teams in the open division performed 7 rounds of competition, 2 compulsory routines and 5 free routines. 5 compulsory moves were randomly drawn during the competitors meeting for each of the 2 compulsory routines. For the first compulsory routine, the draw consisted of the Foot to Foot (R4), Vertical Compress (R3), Spock (R2), Mirrored Burble Hop (R8), and the Joker (R5). For the second compulsory routine, the draw consisted of Compressed Somersault Compressed (B4), the Totem (B3), Mind Warp(R1), Double Joker(B5), and Stand Up Carve (R7). The novice teams performed 5 free rounds. During free rounds, competitors could score up to 50 points for technical and 50 points for artistic for a total score of 100 points.
Competition jumps finished on Saturday and final scores were posted. Awards and raffle prizes for the competitors were given on Saturday evening after competition jumps finished on that day. ATCALL gave the $2,000 cash purse for the first place team in the open division.
|Winners in the Open Division|
|U.N. Safety Officers (Team 104)||520.00||$1950|
|Three One Ways (Team 105)||482.33||$1050|
|3-D (Team 101)||474.66||$600|
|Winners in the Novice Division|
|Romper Room (Team 207)||357.33||$1200|
|The Pimp's Old Lady (Team 201)||309.34||$750|
|Team Flip Side (Team 203)||275.00||$450|
All teams won prizes including Reflex T-shirts, Cypres T-shirts, Sunpath fanny packs, Cypres fanny packs, pack jobs from the Happy Packing Tent, Chronicle II video tapes, Aviator Freefly Helmets, free flights at the FlyAway wind tunnel, Pro-DYTTERs, 50% off Reflex Harness and Container. Competitors and staff received a certificate for their participation in the competition. Raffle prizes given after the awards included AnimalHouse.com black T-shirts, a Reflex T-shirt, Cypres T-shirts, a pack job from the Happy Packing Tent, 50% off a Flite Suit, a free Sky Skin Suit, a free Rigging Innovations Harness and Container System, and a free Reflex Harness and Container System.
To celebrate the fun competition, a party was held that night until 4 AM.
Action Packed Freeflying
Freeflyers with good freeflying skills were crawling out of the wood works to compete in this competition. It's clear that the average freeflyer's skills are increasing along with the growth of the popularity of freeflying. In general, some teams perform different formations while others perform carving and more complex camera actions. Teams perform many of the common freeflying skills including Flower exits, Spocks, hand to foot docks with both partners head-down, hand to hand docks while both are head-down, over/under transitions, head-down carving, and more. Teams add a creative flair to old formations and perform new formations and choreography as well.
The Open Division
U.N. Safety Officers (Team 104), the champions of the open division, kick off several of their free routines with creative exits. While exiting into a free routine, they exit with their backs to the relative wind, one behind the other and they transition backwards into a head-down orientation with the camera flyer docked on front, also head-down. By using a grip switch technique, the team mate behind performs a full cartwheel. Watching him pivot behind his team mate created a fun to watch image on the video. After the camera flyer releases his grip on them, the team mate in front, flips out forward and rotates beneath into a position head-down again behind his partner. In general, the U.N. safety officers perform a variety of freefly movements including carving, over/under transitions, and docking. They included a formation, which was dubbed a "Fish Hook" in the judges room, which involved both freeflyers flying headup with one docking a hand to the foot of the other team mate. Whatever (Team 103), Team Flip Side (Team 203), and Airspeed 3-D (Team 202) also perform a Fish Hook in their routines. During one particularly creative over/under transition, one team mate performs a cartwheel transition facing the camera flyer while the other flies from one side to the other side from a head-down position, underneath and into a headup position. The cartwheel transition rotates in the same direction with this "Rock the Cradle" movement in synchronized choreography. The camera flyer is interactive as well as he carves about his teammates and transitions beneath. They finish a free round routine with one team mate pirouetting headup and the other carving around while headup. As the camera flyer flies head-down and follows the headup carving team mate, the carving headup team mate appears to be stationary in the frame as the ground appears to sliding behind.
3 One Ways (Team 105), who finished in second place in the open division, performs a creative exit as well. As the camera flyer launches from the bottom aft corner of the door, the two team mates exit into a back to back head-down formation. They release one grip and pivot to face one another. One of the team members, Jay, has artificial limbs and can only fly head-down. In a maneuver, Jay dives under his team mate and moves to the opposite side. For Jay, this is a bold move since he can not move into headup flight if he it was necessary. Since the team members take turns being the camera flyer, Jay's limitation to only head-down flying does not become readily obvious. During another free round, one team mate flies underneath and around to the back of his team mate to perform a Totem formation facing the camera flyer. In another move, one team mate performs a feet to thighs dock and then performs a backloop. 3 One Ways also includes over/under transitions, 69s, head-down hand to hand docks, Jokers, and more in their routines.
In a routine involving nice tight flying with the camera playing a role as observer, Team 3-D (Team 101) performs a Finger Spock. In other words, one team mate performs a Spock dock on his headup team mate by touching just only the finger tip! And yes, every one's first name on the team is Dave, hence their team name, 3-D! During another move, one team mate docks feet to the thighs of his partner and then flies over the top into a head-down position while at the same time his team mate flies underneath into a head-down position as well. 3-D finishes a free round by accelerating into a fast head-down position--the very high sensitivity of proximity control at the faster fallrate becomes noticeable in the video as they work to control the close proximity.
During a compulsory round jump, Whatever (Team 103) leaves the plane with their feet clipped together with one head-down and the other headup. The team member in the center float position initiates the exit by diving into the prop blast and they immediately clip their feet together in a feet to feet type of totem formation with each team member facing in the opposite heading. However, during a free round, one discovers that this team can actually dock feet to feet (with one headup and the other head-down) from complete separation! Once docked, they perform a linked loop.
Whatever shows a dance-like fluidity in their free routines. During an exit, one leaves from the front float position facing tail with the other inside with a hands to ankles grip. As they move into a 69 formation, the head-down partner immediately flips forward to become the front person of a train formation. Next, while maintaining contact, the top back person of the train moves over the top towards a 69 formation and flips forward to become the new front person of the train. During a free routine starting from a position facing one another while headup, one partner makes a half backloop to a head-down orientation and makes a 180 degree pirouette to face one another again. They dock and then begin the sequence again. While head-down, the camera flyer spins to finish up a free routine. To finish another free routine, the two performers close in on one another into a 69 but instead they tackle one another going into a tumble.
As they exit into a free routine, the two performers of Psycho Space Seizure (Team 102) exit with their backs to the relative wind, one behind the other and they transition backwards into a head-down orientation. The team mate in front, flips out forward and rotates beneath into a position head-down again behind his partner. During a free routine, they both dock while head-down and each takes a turn performing a complete cartwheel using a hand switch. After a head-down piece turn with a grip, they break apart and each performs a single head-down pirouette rotation in the opposite direction in close synchronicity and then track forward towards the camera with one going off to each side.
The Novice Division
Romper Room (Team 207) won first place in the novice division by performing choreographed routines that sometimes resembled a dance theme. While headup, they both dock a hand to hand facing the opposite heading and begin to run in a backwards rotation. "Hey, they're running in the wrong direction!" They redock right hand to left hand and one ducks under the arm of his partner. To start another free round routine, one exits into a barrel rolling motion while the other team mate follows closely. Next, one transitions into a spinning crossed legged position while the other carves around in a head-down orientation. They perform a Spock formation during which the head-down and headup partner places one hand on the head of the other partner! They also perform a hand to hand dock while head-down and one partner transitions to a headup position to form a Joker and then the both transition to form another Joker formation with each team member in the opposite orientation. In synchronicity, one partner performs a headup pirouette while the other performs a loop starting and stopping in a head-down orientation.
Petra, a member of the second place novice team, The Pimp's Old Lady (Team 201), was making her very first camera jumps during this competition! In their routines, they start with a Flower exit and perform a 69 formation, synchronized pirouettes, Spocks, Cartwheel transitions, and more. To start a free routine, one team member exits presenting the seat to the relative wind and transitions into a sitting position with the other partner docked on the back pack and head-down. Upon breaking the grip the head-down partner flies underneath into a headup position facing the headup partner.
Team Flip Side (Team 203), the third place team in the novice division, has made less than 100 jumps together and around 500 jumps in total. The team's camera flyer, Casey, built their black and gray spotted jumpsuits so that they would look like a well coordinated team at this competition. With good freeflying skills, they fly in close proximity as they perform a Mirrored Burble Hop, synchronized 360s, etc., in their routines. During one of their free round exits, they have milk on their mouths and are carrying a milk cartoon. They perform a Flower exit with a single hand grip into the head-down orientation and a Butterfly exit on another free round routine. One partner performs a standup position docked into the lap of the sitting partner. As they perform a Fish Hook, one can see that it's important for the lower person to not reach upward for the foot of the higher person as this will cause the fallrate to accelerate and thus separation.
Members of Arizona Airspeed assembled a freefly team, Airspeed 3-D (Team 202). They perform several different exits. During one, they interlock the legs while headup and they loop and spin. They perform a no-show exit into a Butterfly. And they also perform the classic "Tube" exit during which each partner takes grips on the ankles of the other partners legs and tumble out the door. They include regular freeflying moves such as a Fish Hook, Mirrored Burble Hop, and some synchronized movements inspired for the rhythms of RW. While sitting, they take turns with one making a pirouette and then the other performing a loop, etc. In another routine, one flew with the seat down and the other flew face-down. In these positions, they docked, broke to perform paired 360s and redocked performing various maneuvers, such as synchronized loops, in between each redock.
Will Et Bad Rapp (Team 206) start their routines with an assortment of exits as well, an exit into a 69 formation, a 3-way head-down launch, a train exit, and more. While they perform a crab exit (a sitting exit with the legs interlocked), the camera flyer rolls and viewers see them and the horizon spin within the frame. During their routines, they include carving and over/under transitions. To finish a routine, they dock into a Crab formation.
Inspired by the freestyle discipline, XS (Team 204) punctuates their freefly dives with style. They start their routine with a back to back head-down exit with the blue sky behind as they arc about the sun. Another exit resembles a ballroom dancing movement. They start inside door with right hand grips with Ruth aft and facing forward. Upon exiting, Ruth rolls to her left slipping her head under her partner's right arm and into a Butterfly maneuver with her partner, Stefan. In starting another free round, Stefan exits with his back to the prop blast with Ruth sitting in his lap. As they are holding both hands, Ruth raises up into a head-down position over Stefan. Later, in a dive, Ruth performs a headup Daffy position while Stefan orbits about her in a face down position. As the camera flyer takes a position rotating beneath them looking up, they dock into a Butterfly maneuver. Ruth finishes one routine by performing Layout Backloops. To finish another routine, Ruth holds a standing stag position while the camera flyer makes multiple rolls. With the event being sponsored by Milk, Stefan is dressed in a black and white suit resembling a cow.
Rasta Fly (Team 208) perform very basic freeflying maneuvers, however, their exit will get anyone's attention. During a tumbling Butterfly maneuver, one partner is literally hanging onto the hair of the other partner. Ouch! During another routine, after they both exit together with their backs to the prop blast, one sits, bicycling the legs while the other performs cartwheels. They include and over/under transition and one docks with his feet onto his partners thighs while sitting.
2 Non-Blondes and Tom (Team 205) exit into the head-down position with a single handed grip and then perform Spocks, Jokers, and more. Instead of cranking out points, they perform their last dive of the competition by flying up close to their camera flyer and showing their smiling faces while head-down. They are having a great time!
Concerns for safety did arise during this competition.
A camera flyer, who was originally selected to be in the pool of camera flyers, reported that he had heaps of freefly experience. Based upon his reported experience level, one team adopted him as their team camera flyer. However, the particular camera flyer could not fly well and was always far away from his performing team. On one dive, this camera flyer was far away and directly above the team at pull time. Vertical separation at break off time can result in confusion and a collision during opening. Additionally, a camera flyer who does not describe his abilities accurately will eventually be known by other freeflyers and will find it difficult get on good dives later. It's always important to be truthful about your freefly abilities.
Another team, because they were out flying their abilities crashed into one another while sit flying. The camera flyer of another team dove beneath his team mates in a risky fashion, sometimes, too close. It was obvious that this camera flyer was trying to fly beyond his abilities. Attempting to fly outside your ability increases the risk and chances for freefall collisions.
At the end of a dive, one team went completely flat instantly. If you are freeflying, don't do this. It can result in a nasty freefall collision. Going flat instantly slows your fallrate and if someone is above you when you do it, the freefall collision will be hard and will do damage. To break-off, it's best to carve your head-down position outward from the center and gradually transition into an efficient track. If you are not head-down, then make a half cartwheel transition to head-down and began backing away into a track.
Thinking it was creative, one team member while sitting on his partner's back thought it was cool to deploy from this position. (The author recommends deployment from a face-down position after a proper break-off procedure.)
During a rejump, a team had a close encounter with an aircraft in flight while in freefall.
Freefly is on the way to becoming the next major and dominant discipline in skydiving!