Meeting the Challenge!
Features | Aug 17, 2022
Meeting the Challenge!

Kelsey Strock

Photo above: Participants make a 20-way warm up jump on day one of the event. Photo by Mark Kirschenbaum/Hypoxic.

Over Memorial Day weekend, elite formation skydivers from across the globe descended on Skydive Arizona in Eloy for the 26th Arizona Challenge. Members of U.S. 4-Way Formation Skydiving Team Arizona Airspeed hosted the annual invitational with a goal of completing technically challenging big-way skydives. Participants completed multiple 60-way formations during the event.

Airspeed hand selected a roster of 60 skydivers for the 2022 event, many of whom are seasoned 4-way and 8-way competitors. This competition experience brought not only the right technical skill, but also the right mindset, to the group. This year, all the jumpers knew the importance of working as a team, remaining calm under pressure and focusing on execution—and it showed in their performance.

On the first day, Airspeed members dove right into warm ups, leading 16- to 20-way groups through creative multi-point formations. Performance targets, such as time to first point, helped participants dial in their flying in preparation for the formations to come. By Sunday morning, the group moved forward to a 60-way sequential, which included a 16-way outfacing base in the second point.

Then, Airspeed revealed the next 60-way formation to challenge the group, inspired by the Airspeed triangle logo. The coaches, joined by former Airspeed member Mark Kirkby, diligently coached participants on slot-specific technique to make the formation a success.

On day two, the jumpers flew this 60-way sequential in which the base changed from inward facing to outward facing on the second point. Photos by Mark Kirschenbaum/Hypoxic.

On Monday morning, the group came prepared to perform. Big smiles, deep breaths and fist bumps made their way around the plane just before the green light. Even before they left the plane, it was clear from the collective team energy that the formation was going to be a success. Just a few minutes later, the final outfacers clicked into their slots, and a sense of calm came over the completed formation before breakoff.

With that early completion checked off, Airspeed introduced a new 60-way formation consisting of jewels and Norwegian donuts. The delicate design required active, aware flying from every slot. On the final jump of the event, the formation built and flew beautifully for 12 seconds. The media team—Niklas Daniel, Mark Kirschenbaum and Andres Mesa—captured all of the action, which the participants watched repeatedly as they shared celebratory drinks on the ground.

Lastly, Tony Peralta continued the tradition of playing “Taps” on trumpet in the team huddle on Memorial Day. The emotional tribute unified the group even more around its gratitude for this shared experience of skydiving in America.

Kelsey Strock | D-40422
Verona, Wisconsin

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