PASA Nationals at Skydive Pretoria 2022

By Willie Bodenstein


Hosted once again at Skydive Pretoria the Nationals started with a practice day on 28 April with 29 April to 1 May set as competition days. For once the weather played ball and it was a typical Pretoria early autumn day with glorious sunshine.

Skydive Pretoria's premises were as per usual, in perfect condition with manicured lawns, lots and lots of shady trees, a large magnificent swoop pond and an extremely large open area for out landings.

PASA, the Parachute Association of South Africa is a non-profit association of members with the mission statement: "To foster, develop and facilitate sport parachuting, in all its facets, within South Africa, in the safest and most progressive manner, on behalf of its members.

For many people, the words parachuting and skydiving conjure up images of adrenalin junkies and daredevils with little regard for their own safety.

One of the questions most frequently asked of sport parachutists is, "who in their right mind would want to willingly throw themselves out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft?"

In truth, sport parachuting is a disciplined sport that operates within rigidly defined and enforced safety parameters as set out in PASA's Manual of Procedures. This Manual has been ratified by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and is the basis upon which PASA has been approved as an Aviation Recreation Organisation. The safety and training standards contained in the manual are on a par or better than international standards and must be adhered to by all affiliated drop zones and members in South Africa.

Some landing approaches

A competitor during the speed event….

….and crossing the line where the speed is recorded.

Competitors during Friday's speed event

The following disciplines were contested during the Nationals:

A formation team forming up during the formation event on Friday

The Ten Way Speedstar formation attempt on Saturday

A nice touch is that the formations can be viewed on a large screen TV

Formation Skydiving (FS):- Formation Skydiving is the ultimate team sport and generally consists of 2, 4, 8 or 16 people.
Artistic Events (AE):- Artistic Events is an expansion of skydiving which includes using any combination of the three flying axes (roll, pitch, and yaw).
Canopy Formation (CF):- Here, groups of jumpers leave the aircraft and open their parachutes relatively quickly in pre-determined sequences, allowing them to fly those parachutes together in various formations.

Competitors landing on the mat during the accuracy event on Friday

Freefall Style & Accuracy Landing and Para-Ski (SAP):- Three sub-disciplines make up Style, Accuracy and Para-Ski. Of these, Accuracy is the oldest discipline in skydiving and the most active of the three in South Africa. The aim in Accuracy is to land as accurately as possible on a designated spot. Competition organisers usually provide a large inflatable mat with an electronic measuring pad which can accurately identify a spot the size of a R2 coin.

A competitor during the canopy piloting event.....

Extensive use is made of modern electronic measuring equipment to record speeds during this discipline.

Canopy Piloting (CP):- Specialised high-speed accuracy flying of high-performance parachutes. Taking some of canopy formation and accuracy landing combined with high performance canopy flight makes for some spectacular viewing. Distance, accuracy and speed are the 3 factors that are combined to find the overall winner in this discipline. Normally practiced over a body of water, there are some great views of water spray created.

Enjoying the action

Smiling faces from some of the speed event competitors

Another load on its way to the PAC 750 jump ship

Shade for the packers

Wingsuit Flying (WS):- Wingsuit Flying is the latest SSA discipline in which one flies through the air using a specialised wingsuit transforming your body into a wing. A wingsuit flight ends by deploying and landing with one's parachute. Consistent glide ratios of over 3:1 can be reached with forward speeds exceeding 300km/h.

The Freestyle Canopy Piloting event was in progress when I arrived on Saturday morning. The weather again was perfect and the opinion of most of those that I spoke to was that the competition will most likely be concluded by later in the afternoon.

It may be my imagination, but there just seemed to be substantially less people about than in other years. Perhaps we have too many long weekends in April, or is the cost of fuel or the ravages of Covid is still being felt?

However, the most important thing is that there were no incidents or accidents and it seemed as if a lot of fun was had by all.

The results

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