History

Parachuting competition dates back to around 1930 in Russia, where jumpers demonstrated who could land closest to a target. In 1948, the Federation Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) named American Joseph Crane to chair the newly established Commission Internationale de Parachutisme (CIP), now called the International Parachuting Commission (IPC). The first FAI sanctioned World Parachuting Championships took place in Yugoslavia in 1951, with five European teams competing. The U.S. fielded its first team at the world championships in Moscow in 1956. From 1951 through 1975, FAI-sanctioned skydiving competition consisted exclusively of the “classic” disciplines of freefall style and accuracy landing.

Group freefall skydiving, then called “relative work” and now called “formation skydiving” (FS) grew increasingly popular through the 1960s and emerged as a competitive discipline in the early 1970s. The first 4-way formation skydiving event was introduced at the 1970 U.S. National Skydiving Championships in Plattsburgh, New York. 10-way speed star formation skydiving debuted at the 1972 National Skydiving Championships in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. In September 1975, the first FAI World Championships of Relative Work took place in Warendorf, Germany. Modern 4-way and 8-way FS sequential dive pools were formulated by the IPC in 1976 and introduced as official events at the 1977 USPA National Skydiving Championships. The Second World Championships of Relative Work, featuring 4-way and 8-way sequential events took place in November of 1977 in Gatton, Australia. “Mirror Image” from the United States won the first-ever 8-way sequential gold medal.

Canopy formation (CF) was added as an event in 1983. Canopy piloting (CP) became a medal event at the 2005 Nationals in Perris, California. Vertical formation skydiving (VFS) became official in 2007 when USPA included it in the National Championships at Skydive Chicago. Mixed Formation Skydiving was added in 2013. The newest discipline, Wingsuit Flying debuted in 2015 at Chicagoland Skydiving Center. Meanwhile, the original events, style and accuracy, remain an enduring part of the USPA Nationals. The biannual style and accuracy world championships remains the largest FAI parachuting championships, both by number of participating countries and the number of individual competitors.