Making it Happen in 2021 with P3
Event News | May 21, 2021
Making it Happen in 2021 with P3

Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld

Photo by Kristian Caulder.

The international skydiving community knows P3—Perris Performance Plus—as the organization that hosts world-class large-formation skydiving events for highly experienced jumpers. What a lot of people don’t know is that P3 also holds camps to help skydivers with 100 to 10,000 jumps gain the skills to be included in these top-level events. The organizing team often hosts these events back-to-back to give participants in the earlier camp the chance to gain skills and qualify for the more challenging camp that follows. The P3 team originally proved this strategy successful by following up its P3 Big-Way Skills Camp with the P3 100-Way Camp (where two 100-way groups swap loads all day). This February, P3 did the same for sequential large-formation skydiving at its Sequential Camp/Winter Fling combo event at Skydive Perris in California.

Since international travel was still very restricted, the groups at both events were smaller than usual. But the 36 who attended the Sequential Camp and the 32 who attended the Winter Fling (including a few jumpers who qualified from the camp) had a ball and made some amazing skydives organized by Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, Kate Cooper-Jensen and Christy Frikken. The weather was Southern California beautiful and the Skydive Perris aircraft fleet and staff kept things running smoothly.

As the focus of large-formation skydiving has switched from pure numbers to more artistic formations, events such as the P3 Spring Fling, P3 Power Play, Arizona Challenge, Team Elite and Sequential Gang have popped up to meet this demand. P3 developed its Sequential Camp to help jumpers practice this type of intricate flying and qualify them for participation in events worldwide. 


Photo by Kristian Caulder.

Big-way formation skydiving—whether performed on bellies, head down, head high, in wingsuits or under canopies—breaks down into two basic parts:

  1. the ability to get to the formation in a quick, efficient and predictable fashion.
  2. the ability to fly your slot in a quiet, smooth, controlled manner that helps the entire formation build.

The more intricate and fragile the formation, the more important number two is. At the risk of throwing out a broad generalization, classic big-way jumpers are usually great at number one (getting to the formation) but not as skilled at number two (flying their slots). And competition team jumpers who do great at number two often get lost seeing dozens or hundreds of people in the air and have trouble with number one. At P3 camps, participants practice all of these skills, but the big-way and 100-way camps focus primarily on number one and the sequential camps on number two. Both types of camps start with groups in the 16-way range.

When designing large-formation records, organizers keep the formations as simple as possible, incorporating lots of structure to help the formation hold its shape, especially toward the center. It’s not about the beauty of the formation; it’s about designing a formation that can get as many people on it as quickly as possible. Everyone is facing directly or almost directly at the center, so they only have one line of vision to reference.

But on sequential formations such as those flown at February’s P3 Sequential Camp and Winter Fling, it’s not just about going big, it’s about the designs or multiple designs of each jump. Many of the formations have a lot of open space within the formation that the jumpers need to maintain without taking grips. Jumpers are flying slots in which they face away from center or are building formations such as cats and compressed accordions, where it is difficult to see the center. On these types of formations, each person will nearly always have two or three different lines of vision that they must maintain to keep the shape of the formation.


Photo by Kristian Caulder.

For instance, in the photo of the open-diamond formation above, TopFlite 20-ways organizer Kevin Kierce (indicated by the arrow) has several lines of vision he must maintain. The first line is always through the center of the formation, because it gives the maximum amount of information. Combined with his peripheral vision, Kierce can see a lot. But Kierce must also look directly to his side to see the line and the distance between him and the tail of the other diamond to his right. Then he must look straight ahead to see the line and distance between him and tail of the diamond (the jumper wearing the orange helmet) in front of him. At some point, he also has to look outward, so he can pick up the grip with his left hand. In order for him to fly this slot and maintain the correct shape of the formation, his plan for maintaining lines of vision would be something like this:

  • Look to the center
  • Look to the right
  • Look to the center
  • Look straight ahead
  • Look to the center
  • Glance out to pick up the grip (if it’s not there, look back to the center)

While maintaining all these lines of vision, Kierce must make constant adjustments to hold his position.

To fly formations like this, jumpers must be comfortably in the middle of their fall-rate range. Frequently, belly flyers are so worried about going low that they are actually too light. They have to arch so hard just to stay with the formation that they have trouble flying their slots. To achieve an ideal fall rate, a jumper usually needs to be heavier than they think they should be.

The P3 Winter Fling was tremendously challenging and rewarding for the team. There were no easy slots and everyone worked together to make the formations happen. The formations flew with precision and grace, and amazing camera flyers Craig O’Brien and Kristian Caulder caught all the action.

With the total-break sequential 150-way world record attempts on the calendar for October and the 110-way star attempts planned for 2022, P3 is hoping that these camps build momentum and shut the door completely on 2020!

More information on P3 events is available at p3skydiving.com.


About the Author

Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, D-8424, is a member of the P3 organizing team, a world-champion skydiver, the manager of Skydive Perris in California, a motivational speaker and the author of “Above All Else.” More from Brodsky-Chenfeld is available at danbrodsky-chenfeld.com.

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Tags: May 2021
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