Freestyle skydiving combines the dynamics of gymnastics with the elegance of dance in an aerial performance starting 13,000 feet above the ground. The freestylist executes precise acrobatic maneuvers, including loops and twists, poses and spins, while falling at speeds up to 150 mph!
A freestyle skydiving team consists of the freestylist and a camera flyer who wears a video camera mounted on his/her helmet. The camera flyer maneuvers in close coordination with the freestylist during the freefall from 13,000 feet down to 3,000 feet to capture the 45-second routine on video and provide a means to display it to the audiences on the ground.
The competitors are judged from the video by a panel of judges on the ground. Scoring is based on the precision, difficulty and creativity of the performance as well as the quality of the camera work. This is the first sport which includes a camera person as a team member and incorporates his/her skill and performance into the team’s total score.
The first international freestyle skydiving competition was held in 1990, and under the direction of the World Freestyle Federation the sport grew to 62 teams from over 24 countries by 1995. In 1996 the International Aeronautical Federation (FAI) gave freestyle skydiving official recognition, and freestylists competed alongside other established skydiving events at the World Cup of Skydiving in 1996 and at the World Championships of Skydiving in 1997. Freestyle was also a spotlight event at the World Games in 1997 and is now well established as one of the most appealing skydiving events to media audiences.