Cloud Dancer
1999 Skydive Chicago Space Games
June 29 to July 4, 1999
article by Tamara Koyn


The following material represents my best effort to capture information that I have acquired about the 1999 Skydive Chicago Space Games. I do not guarantee that it is error free.

I had the opportunity to attend a portion of Olav Zipser's 6th edition of the Space Games held at Skydive Chicago on June 29 to July 4, 1999. Sponsors including A1 Internet, Skydive America, and the host drop zone Skydive Chicago together contributed around $15,000 of sponsorship funding. A Freefly Forum was also held on July 3, 1999.

I learned a bit about what's involved with jumping with a ball and the Space Games in general to share at my web site. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the competitors' meeting which was held June 30 and was not able to observe any of the dives from the 3-way Freefly Open.

For exact details on the Space Games or any questions regarding any material mentioned in this article, you should contact Olav Zipser at or telephone to (530) 304 0876 or Skydive America at 1 877 FREEFLY.

The Ball

For the Atmosphere Dolphin License Tests and during the Space Games, a standard "Space Ball" is used. Bob Neily came up with the idea of filling a tennis ball with lead and attaching a pullup cord. The balls he built are still in use for the Space Games and the tests. (Tragically, Bob was killed in 1998 during a base jump.) Due to its own burble, the ball does not fly perfectly on its own.

The Space Ball is different than the Sky Ball invented by Peter Unruh. The Sky Ball is constructed with a plastic ball filled with the appropriate amount of lead for the desired fallrate and a cone that stabilizes the ball. A recovery pilot chute is located inside the cone. The Sky Ball can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous. If it comes off balance or is kicked off balance, the cone catches too much air and the ball corks badly. If a freeflyer doesn't follow it intuitively, he will lose it with no hope to be able to retrieve the ball. The Space Ball described above maintains the fallrate even when severely struck.

Many unskilled freeflyers are wanting to know how to make a ball so that they can use the ball to learn basic freeflying skills. The 1st School of Modern Skyflying will not provide any instructions on how to build a ball. Balls are very dangerous especially if dropped. The reality of the matter is that safely using a ball requires much more than basic freeflying skills. Freeflyers unable to control their body position, proximity, fallrate, transitions, and independent arm maneuvering are not ready to jump with a ball. They are not even ready for the most basic Atmosphere Dolphin A License Test. These freeflyers would be unable to retrieve the ball at the end of the skydive and thus present very serious risks to persons and property on the ground. Anyone attempting to jump with a ball without serious training for that purpose is seriously brain dead and would destroy the future for the ball. The 1st School of Modern Skyflying does not promote jumping with the ball unless an approved 1st School of Modern Skyflying ball master is present during the jump.

Note: Starting in December 2002, Vladiball, which is a safe sky ball, has been made available to the market.

The Atmosphere Dolphin License Tests

To participate in some of the Space Games, participants are required to pass an "Atmosphere Dolphin License Test," specifically the Atmosphere Dolphin A License Test. The test fee is $100 and includes jump tickets for both the candidate and the examiner.

During an Atmosphere Dolphin License Test, an approved examiner releases the ball from an exit altitude of 13,000 feet and the candidate must perform rotational and independent arm maneuvering skills flying with a standard Space Ball at approximately 170-180 mph. While most choose to fly head-down, the candidate may do the test while flying headup. The freeflyer is free to exit from any position but must not leave the aircraft before the ball is released. The examiner may retrieve the ball at any time during the dive for any safety reason in which case the test will be considered incomplete.

    During the A License test, the candidate must:
  1. catch the ball
  2. pass it from one hand to the other and release it
  3. perform a 360 degree rotation (any choice between a pirouette, loop, or cartwheel) relative to the ball
  4. catch the ball
  5. pass it from one hand to the other and release it
  6. perform a different 360 degree rotation relative to the ball
  7. catch the ball by 6,000 feet
  8. pass the ball to the left hand to prepare for deployment
  9. return the ball to the examiner after landing

It is best for novices to catch the ball with both hands. When catching the ball with one hand, the ball backs away a little bit if one is too slow to clasp the fingers about the ball. If one hand is extended such that the wind deflects off the palm, the wind will push the ball aside away from your hand. The angle of the hand is less critical if you catch the ball with both hands since the opposite hand will help trap the ball. If catching the ball with one hand and you have your hand slightly upwind of the ball, the burble from your hand will push the ball away a few inches. (This effect can be observed when Jack Jefferies catches his ball on one of his dives near the end of the Basic Body Flight Theory video published by the Skydive University.)

While passing the ball from one hand to the other, it is possible that the candidate may fail to maintain the same fallrate as the ball and stop falling straight down. In this case, the candidate may be surprised to see the ball recede, advance, descend, or ascend when he releases it.

After completing the required maneuvers, candidates have a tendency to become overconfident and they cork when attempting a third optional maneuver. If the candidate decides to go for all of the B License maneuvers, he or she must remember that he or she will fail the A License Test if he or she is not able to return the ball to the examiner after landing.

Passing the A License Test is only theoretically an indication that a freeflyer has demonstrated a minimum ability to fly in a coordinated manner. As freeflyers, one is expected to always fly with discipline and control. However, freeflyers have been able to pass the test even though flying chaotically towards the ball and corking chaotically prior to quickly returning to the ball to resume the next maneuver. Because the B License test involves performing more maneuvers, a candidate will not be able to pass the test if he or she is corking and flying chaotically about the ball.

The following Atmosphere Dolphin A License holders participated in the Indi 500 and/or Atmosphere Dolphin Challenge.

AD A 1Olav Zipser
AD A 8Alaska John
AD A 12Stefania Martinengo
AD A 16Sean Mac Cormac
AD A 23Colon Berry
AD A 27Ed Mace
AD A 42Max Cohn
AD A 62Kevin Sabarese
AD A 72Bruce Braybill
AD A 74Steve Utter
AD A 76Larry Kershenbaum
AD A 79Rook Nelson
AD A 83Russ Wylie
AD A 84Jim O'Reilly
AD A 117Janine Hill
AD A 118John Shoffner
AD A 128Ace Buhr
AD A 129Johnny Winkelkotter
AD A 130John Skinner
AD A 131Johnny Cangelosi
AD A 133Ray Murphy

A candidate must have passed the A License test before they can take the B License test.

    During the B License test, the candidate must:
  1. catch the ball
  2. pass it from one hand to the other and release it
  3. perform a 360 degree pirouette rotation relative to the ball
  4. catch the ball
  5. pass it from one hand to the other and release it
  6. perform a 360 degree loop rotation relative to the ball
  7. catch the ball
  8. pass it from one hand to the other and release it
  9. perform a 360 degree cartwheel rotation relative to the ball
  10. catch the ball
  11. pass it from one hand to the other and release it
  12. perform a 360 degree pirouette in the opposite direction as before relative to the ball
  13. catch the ball
  14. pass it from one hand to the other and release it
  15. perform a 360 degree loop in the opposite direction as before relative to the ball
  16. catch the ball
  17. pass it from one hand to the other and release it
  18. perform a 360 degree cartwheel in the opposite direction as before relative to the ball
  19. catch the ball by 6,000 feet
  20. pass the ball to the left hand to prepare for deployment
  21. return the ball to the examiner after landing

The following Atmosphere Dolphin B License holders participated in the Indi 500 and/or Atmosphere Dolphin Challenge.

AD B 1Olav Zipser
AD B 3Ed Mace
AD B 4Rook Nelson
AD B 5Colon Berry
AD B 9Steve Utter

Previous to the Skydive Chicago Space Games, there were 125 (8 women and 117 men) Atmosphere Dolphin A License holders from 13 different countries around the world and 8 Atmosphere Dolphin B License holders.

For those very experienced freeflyers who have already passed their B License test, there are also the C and D license tests which involve two balls and two ball masters. The balls are recovered by 7,000 feet AGL. Currently, only Olav Zipser has passed the C and D License tests.

The basic Atmosphere Dolphin License Tests do not confirm that a freeflyer is ready to make routine jumps with a ball. The "Space Ball" should not be used as a toy. It is too easy to bump it and to lose eye contact with it especially if you must look directly into the sun. When Atmosphere Dolphin License candidates cork by accident during the test, they rely upon seeing the Ball Master's location near the ball in order to know where to find the ball. Even a very skilled freeflyer and Ball Master should not use the ball as a toy nor training aid. Each time the ball is taken in the air, there is risk of dropping it. It is best to minimize the use of the ball to help insure that this test standard for freeflyers will not be lost.

Examiners who can give the A License test are selected and approved based upon their experience, capability, and consistent attention to safety. Typically, they have passed their B License test. But passing the B License test does not automatically qualify one as an A License examiner. Similarly, passing the C License test does not automatically qualify one as a B License examiner.

Ball Masters

A freeflyer must have passed the Atmosphere Dolphin B License Test and must be approved before he or she can be a Ball Master. He or she also receives training in additional safety procedures.

Ball masters are responsible for the ball from the time they take it to the aircraft until the time they have returned the ball to its place of storage. The ball must be utilized over a non-inhabited area where it will not cause any damage if accidentally dropped. The ball should never be used over the airport, road, town, or other inhabited area. The wind drift should be calculated to determine the direction and amount of estimated freefall drift of the ball from the exit point. The exit point should be selected accordingly. Winds aloft in access of 40 knots may cause significant drift of the ball and jumps with the ball are best postponed to a time of better weather. The spot should be verified prior to exiting with the ball to insure that the ball will not be over any persons or property. The ball should not be jumped in clouds. A Ball Master shall retrieve the ball at any time due to a cloud, bad spot, or due to freeflyers flying in an out of control manner. The ball should be retrieved by 6,000-5,500 feet AGL to prepare for deployment and any activities, tests, or events of the jump are finished. After canopy deployment, the ball must be safely stowed to avoid accidentally dropping it during descent under parachute. It is the responsibility of the Ball Master to always exercise good judgment when using the ball.

During the Space Games, Ball Masters allow competitors to concentrate on competing without additional concerns for retrieving the ball to prepare for deployment. Competitors compete until the ball is retrieved by the Ball Master. Ball masters determine the winner after each race by asking each competitor whether or not they won. If competitors do not agree, the video will be reviewed for evaluation.

The Freefly Indi 500

The Indi 500 competition began on July 1. Because this event utilizes a ball, participants must have earned the Atmosphere Dolphin A License.

In this event, two racers race around 2 freeflyers that act as pylons. Racers must make as many laps as possible while flying in a safe controlled manner. The race is filmed by an external camera flyer. The racer making the most laps wins and moves on to race against another freeflyer in another round. In the event of a tie, there will be a one round race-off. Otherwise, the winner will be determined by a coin toss. Ultimately, the freeflyers involved act as honest judges of the competition.

To setup the race track and begin the race, the two freeflyers acting as pylons exit from outside the aircraft with the racers exiting from inside. The front floating pylon (facing toward the tail) carries and releases the ball and the rear floating pylon (facing toward the prop) is the "Gate." A coin toss determines which racer gets the back and front positions inside the door. The Ball Master pylon must fly relative to the ball filming the Gate pylon beyond the ball, retrieve the ball at 6,000-5,500 feet which signals the end of the race, and retrieve the ball at any time if necessary for any safety reason. The "Gate" pylon flies relative and facing the Ball Master at a distance of 40-50 feet.

To begin the race, each racer must pass the Gate pylon with his left side (assuming they are flying head-down) closest to the pylon in such a manner that his body "eclipses" the ball master pylon's view of the Gate pylon. The race proceeds with left hand turns about the pylons. It is suggested that racers stay in the video frame and do not pass closer than 6 feet of the pylon freeflyers. If a racer even slightly touches a pylon freeflyer or collides with his racing partner, he will loose that round. In other words, freeflyers can not touch nor burble anything.

For the top freeflyers, the exit is critical. The first freeflyer to eclipse the Gate pylon wins if both racers have equal flying skills. Because forward movement slows the fallrate, racers have their legs together and the arms swept back while the pylons are in basic head-down stances. Novices are slow to catch onto this concept and they tend to float or cork while racing. (Wearing a freefly suit that is too baggy will restrict a freeflyer's ability to move forward quickly around the track without floating above the track course.) While forward drive is the name of the game, it's easy to sail past a pylon making a wide arcing path around it. Indi 500 Champion, Colon Berry, explains that he slows at the 3/4 point to the pylon, flies tight to it, and accelerates into the next straight leg. The better racers pivot on their heads around this 3/4 point to prepare for flying around the pylon. "Rook," who acted as the Ball Master pylon commented that he could feel the burble of some of the best racers racing around him.

No one competed in the Indi 500 while attempting to fly headup.

Indi 500 Scores
RankFreeflyerPrize MoneyFlipper Points
1Colon Berry$230029
2Alaska John$90019 (2 buy)
3Sean Mac Cormac$48317
4Steve Utter11
5Olav Zipser9
5Russ Wylie9 (1 buy)
6Stefania Martinengo7 (1 buy)
6Bruce Braybill7 (1 buy)
6Jim O'Reilly7
6Johnny Cangelosi7
7Max Cohn5
7Larry Kershenbaum5
7Rook Nelson5
7Janine Hill5
7Johnny Winkelkotter5
8Ed Mace3
8Kevin Sabarese3
8John Shoffner3
8Ace Buhr3
8John Skinner3
Atmosphere Dolphin Challenge

The AD Challenge began on July 2. Because this event utilizes a ball, participants must have earned the Atmosphere Dolphin A License.

In this event, two racers strive to perform as many transitions as possible pointing to the ball in between each. The two racers are filmed by a Ball Master. The race ends when the Ball Master retrieves the ball at 6,000-5,500 feet. The Ball Master may retrieve the ball at any time, terminating the race, for any safety reason. Transitions not completed prior to the retrieval of the ball do not count. The racer making the most transitions wins the round and moves on to race against another freeflyer. Ultimately, the freeflyers involved act as honest judges of the competition.

The two racers will exit from outside the door with the Ball Master inside. The entire group exits with shoulder grips. The race begins when the ball is released by the Ball Master.

Racers must stay within the video frame and point to the ball while on level and within arms length distance prior to each transition. This illustrates that each racer is capable of catching the ball in between each transition. Transitions must be performed in order: pirouette, loop, cartwheel, etc. Each racer must remain in his half of the airspace which is defined by the Ball Master's line of sight through the ball. If a racer crosses the Ball Master's line of sight, he will loose the round. If the order of transitions is not followed nor if not pointing to the ball within arm's reach prior to the transition, that particular transition will not count. If the ball, Ball Master, or other competitor is touched or interfered with during the race, the violator will lose the round.

During the competition, the novices tended to float more during their transitions. The fallrate of the ball is sufficiently fast such that transitioning techniques for maintaining fallrate properly must be utilized. Competitors with the regular baggier type freefly suits tended to float more during their transitions. Other competitors chose to wear less drag. Even a pirouette that rotates off axis would cause a competitor to float relative to the ball. AD Challenge Champion, Olav Zipser, used good clean flying skills to stay close to the ball during his transitions.

Atmosphere Dolphin Challenge Scores
RankFreeflyerPrize MoneyFlipper Points
1Olav Zipser$230028 (1 buy)
2Alaska John$90023
3Colon Berry$48317
4Ed Mace9
4Steve Utter9
4Stefania Martinengo9 (1 buy)
4Max Cohn9
5Russ Wylie7
5John Shoffner7
5Jim O'Reilly7
6Sean Mac Cormac5
6Rook Nelson5 (1 buy)
6Bruce Graybill5
6John Skinner5
6Johnny Cangelosi5
6Ray Murphy5
7Kevin Sabarese3
7Janine Hill3
7Ace Bhur3
7Johnny Winkelkotter3
7Libby Smith3

The AD Challenge seemed to present some judging issues. Sometimes racers tend to rotate about the ball as they perform transitions. Logic would indicate to not count the transition if the line of gravity drawn through the racer's center of gravity is on the opposite side of the ball. However, this was not specifically addressed. Only very few transitions were performed after pointing to the ball truly within arm's reach. Most of the transitions were performed after pointing to the ball clearly not within arms reach of the ball actually capable of catching it. Competitors counted these transitions anyway. So, should one transition not count if it is slightly further from the ball when another competitor was slightly closer but still not within arms reach of the ball during the pointing?

Flipper Points

While competing in the Indi 500 and the Atmosphere Dolphin Challenge, freeflyers can earn "Flipper Points." Freeflyers earn 1 point just by competing at one Space Games and 1 point for each race that they do not win. A freeflyer earns 2 points for each race he or she wins. (Because they do not actually race for a particular round, freeflyers do not earn Flipper Points during these "buy" rounds.) The first place champion of each event, the Indi 500 and AD Challenge, earns an additional 16 points. The second place freeflyer of each event earns an additional 8 points and the third place freeflyer of each event earns an additional 4 points.

Freeflyers accumulate Flipper Points at each of the 3 Space Games Events previous to the Space Games World Championship, which will be held in March or April 2000. The best 16 Atmosphere Dolphin rated freeflyers in the Indi 500 and the best 16 in the AD Challenge will be invited to the Space Games World Championship.

3-Way Freefly Open

The 3-Way Freefly Open began on June 30 and competitors had to submit their tapes to be judged on July 4. The rules for the competition were something like...

A. GENERAL: On a freefly jump, teams perform a sequence of moves with the highest possible artistic and technical merit. Each team exits the plane at 13,000 feet. The working time begins when the first team member leaves the aircraft. For the Compulsory Round, the working time will be 45 seconds. Due to the many possible different flying styles and the different fallrates, teams are free to perform their free routine until opening time or until they present an obvious ending. Deployment must occur no lower than 3000 feet.

Teams can do as many jumps as they wish and submit one video dub of their best compulsory round and one video dub of their best free round prior to the posted deadline time and date.

B. TEAM COMPOSITION: The are no gender nor slot specific requirements for a freefly team. The team consists of three freeflyers, one of which wears a camera. The camera can be rotated between team members but only one camera is allowed per team. There are no member substitutions allowed once the competition has begun.

C. THE COMPULSORY ROUND: Freefly teams show their technical skills by performing a set sequence of seven maneuvers as follows:

1.2.3. 360 degree rotations around all 3 axis to be performed in a predefined order (pirouette, loop, and cartwheel). The 2 team members without camera should perform each of the 3 rotations simultaneously.

4. Over-under

5. Carving (minimum of 3 rotations)

6.7. Docks: Mindwarp, Compress, Foot to Foot, 69 (minimum of 2 docks to be chosen by the competitors)

When the teams have completed the first sequence of 7 skills, they start performing the sequence again until the 45 second time limit expires. Every move completed in the correct order will count as one point. The team with the highest compulsory score will be the team who completes the most number of points within 45 seconds.

D. THE FREE ROUND: Teams are free to perform whatever they like as long as they are safe at all times.

E. JUDGING: A panel of 3 judges will evaluate each team's performance. During the competitors meeting, one day prior to the start of the aerial races of the Space Games, all competitors will vote on a committee. The committee will choose a panel of judges.

F. JUDGING THE FREE ROUNDS: Free rounds will be judged on 3 different categories: Camera Work/Photography, Technical Skill, and Overall Artistic Impression. Each of the three judges will judge only one aspect of the dive. One of the 3 judges will be a Video/Photographer expert (either an expert camera flyer himself or a film maker or a professional photographer). One of the 3 judges will be an expert freeflyer able to determine difficulty level of the team moves and of the team flying. The third judge, who will give the Overall Artistic impression score, may be a non-skydiver or a novice and will observe the dives from a perspective of a non-skydiver. Each category is scored up to 100 maximum points and the scores are added together to determine the final score for the round.

- 1st expert judge concentrates only on the Camera work and looks for: Composition, Angles, light usage, background usage, smoothness, overall aesthetics, and movement of the camera flyers.

- 2nd expert judge concentrates only on the difficulty level and team work. He looks for: Precision, speed curve changing (changes in fallrate and proximity control), team flying as a piece, Technical level of the moves, and originality of moves.

- 3rd judge concentrates only on the Overall artistic impression and looks for: Aesthetics, Artistic expression, Excitement, Inspiration, and Beauty of Choreography

For the Free Round at the Skydive Chicago Space Games, the judges were:
Technical judges: Orly King, Rob Romey, and Johnny Skinner
Camera judges: Sammy Popov, Steve Verner, and Ace Bhur
Artistic Judges: Teneveve (12 jumps in total), Amy Mishkin (Painter and Sculptor), Chad (Musician and Surfer), Jennifer (dancer and gymnast), and Karen (a relative work skydiver)

G. JUDGING THE COMPULSORY ROUND: For the compulsory round, judges count the number of moves the team performed within the 45 second working time. Each move completed as described in section C, performed in the correct order, and visible on the video will count as one point. If a tie occurs, judges will look for synchronization in performing the moves, precision, and proximity.

H. SCORING: All the scores from each round (compulsory + free rounds) from each single judge are added together for a total overall combined score.

I. CLASSIFICATION OF FINAL RESULTS: The Overall winner is the team with the highest combined overall score. In the case of a tie, the winner will be the team with the highest score in the Free round.

Recognition will also be given to:
- the team with highest score in Camera work
- the team with highest score in Overall Choreography/Artistic Impression
- the team with highest score in Technical Skill
- the team with the highest score in Compulsory
- the team with the highest score in Free

Apagee had the highest score in Camera work of 18 points. Sky had the highest score in Artistic of 18.6 points and the highest score in Technical of 17.6 points. Sky, also, had the highest score in Free of 51.5 points. At the Skydive Chicago Space Games, the team with the most Compulsory points was the Freefly Baboons completing 13 points in the 45 second working time. The overall record for the Compulsory routine for maximum number of points is still held by the 1st School of Modern Skyflying team (Olav Zipser, Filippo Fabbi, Mauro Tannino) with 15.5 points in the 45 second working time.

3-Way Freefly Open Scores
CameraArtisticTechnicalFreeCompulsoryTotal Score
1. SKY
Rook Nelson, Olav Zipser, Stefania Martinengo
Ace Buhr, Steve Utter, Bruce Graybill
Alaska, Joe Joseph., John Skinner
4. 1 877 FREEFLY
Sean Mac Cormac, Olav Zipser, Steve Utter
5. Freefly BABOONS
Max Cohn, Alaska, Sean Mac Cormac
Max Cohn, Olav Zipser, Colon Berry
John Shoffner, Janine Hill, Colon Berry
Russ Wylie, Jim O'Reily, Ed Mace
13.315.211.640.19 49.1
Rook Nelson, Johnny Cangelosi, Johnny Winkelcotter
Stefania Martinengo, Janine Hill, Rob Romey
John, Rook, Russ
Larry Kershenbaum, Sean Mac Cormac, Steve Utter
Bermuda Triangle Tracking Race

In this event, two racers attempt to track further than the other. Jump run is flown perpendicular to the wind line approximately 1 to 3 miles upwind. Both competitors exit at the same time from inside the plane. Exact exit position is determined by a coin toss. Racers track in a straight line towards the drop zone 90 degrees to the line of flight. Competitors must deploy by 3,000 feet. Competitors are their own judges. If there is no agreement, a coin toss will determine the winner.

The Bermuda Triangle Tracking Race was not included at the Skydive Chicago edition of the Space Games.

Wrapping Up

A video of the Space Games at Skydive Chicago will be released at a later date.

The next Space Games will be in November at Skydive America West Palm Beach. And the organizers are asking current Atmosphere Dolphin License holders for suggestions and comments about the rules.

Future editions of the Space Games will include new games, some games more difficult games to challenge Atmosphere Dolphin B License holders, female categories for certain games, and a skysurfing event.

Freefly Forum

Roger Nelson led a Freefly Forum Saturday Night July 3, 1999.

Freeflying is today what relative work was when it was new to skydiving. Relative Workers actually called themselves "Freaks." Roger suggests to try to short circuit the process instead of repeating history. It's important to not get stuck on one discipline. In the future, the disciplines will be blended to enable, for example, the construction of vertical towers, trees, and branches with skydivers of mixed disciplines.

Steps to organize a world record...First, a category for the record must be defined and submitted to the IPC/FAI. For example, it can be the "Largest VRW Formation." A world record formation must be held for at least 3 seconds. It must also be determined how the event will be recorded, documented, and verified. The following day, Olav Zipser went on to organize a 10-way intended to become that first official world record for freeflying.

To help the sport grow, a freeflyer needs to be on the USPA board. Board members receive paid trips to board meetings twice a year. Olav Zipser, Alaska John, Sean MacCormac, and Bruce Graybill volunteered to be nominated for the 2001 board election. The board member must go for the safety and training, competition, or awards committee to have the most effectiveness in helping freefly to become recognized as a part of our sport.

Students getting started with freeflying need guidance so that they will not get hurt. Minimum recommended equipment includes an audible altimeter, Cypres, hard helmet, BOC, tight closing loop, bungi on leg straps. Clothing must be correct and zippers must stay shut so that access to emergency handles is not blocked. It is not sufficient just to have a BOC. That BOC must be an air worthy BOC meaning that the pouch is not worn nor tired and the pilot chute is not too little nor slippery. Tuck tabs and velcro must be functioning. This means that there must also be a rigger or someone who is qualified to be able to review the equipment and to determine if it is air worthy for 3-D flying. This means that standard procedures for determining air worthiness must be defined.

Some feel that the audible altimeter should be mandatory. It was noted that a drop zone could make recommendations provided by an organization as mandatory at their DZ. We must be self-governing so that we do not become subject to overly restrictive laws.

Audible altimeters can malfunction. Visual altimeters, especially wrist ones, are a good idea and even teach independent arm maneuvering skills. When first learning, students have tunnel vision. If you see the ground too close once, you learn it. Note that going to a new DZ changes your perception of height.

Requirements to be a coach must be determined and specified. These include a coach's freeflying skills, ability to communicate/teach freeflying techniques, and ability to provide video. There should be certification courses for coaches.

The Atmosphere Dolphin License tests are recognized within the freeflying community to determine that a freeflyer has certain minimum freeflying ability and that he or she is ready to participate in larger groups. The ball is dangerous and it will kill. It must be kept as a test tool only. The ball is a true test. The ball reflects a standard fallrate to which freeflyers all over the world can calibrate with. An examiner may be subject to biases and my help or hinder a candidate. The ball, acting as a true reference point, flies with no bias. However, testing for excellent freeflying skills needs to also include over/under transitions and ability to chase other subjects. The ball test currently tests for the ability to rotate on 3 axes in 6 different directions and independent arm maneuvering in the freeflyer's choice of headup or head-down flying. Future test procedures should cover all the positions.

Cloud Dancer
© Copyright 1999. Tamara Koyn. All Rights Reserved.