... that Belgium may change the history of 4-way Formation Skydiving competition?
Blue Skies Mag June edition
posted Jun 18th, 2012 -
The NSL News has covered NMP-PCH Hayabusa's charge for gold medals at the World Championship of Formation Skydiving several times. The history of the team is also well known to the NSL News audience. There are still always new angles and perspectives that come up along the way to the biggest achievement in skydiving competition.
The NSL News contribution for the Blue Skies Mag and the "Turning Points" column in the latest edition was a new approach from a different angle to bring even more light to the impressive efforts that the Belgian team makes to achieve their ultimate goal.
It is a fact that only France and USA have ever won 4way gold medals in the modern era of Formation Skydiving competition since 1985, seven times each. Is it really possible that a small nation like Belgium might produce 4way world champions? Here is a different perspective to find an answer - if there is one...
NMP-PCH Hayabusa outdoor progression
Turning Points - Changing History
The U.S. has a population of approximately 313 million people on 3,794,101 square miles at the moment. 87 people live on one square mile, by the numbers. Russia has 143 million people on 6,592,800 square miles, which makes it 21 people per square mile. France is small compared to the two giants, with 65 million people on 260,558 square miles. 301 people have to share each square mile. And then there is Belgium, with 11 million people on 11,787 square miles. Now they really have to be efficient with their space, as 918 people share a square mile with each other. Maybe they have learned to be efficient with everything they do, even in skydiving. Belgium has the best 4-way team in the world - at least the best indoor team, at least for the moment.
Imagine if NMP-PCH Hayabusa keeps this position and extends it to outdoor competition - it would be quite incredible, wouldn't it? Two of the three formation skydiving powerhouses in the world, U.S. and France, have taken turns winning the 4-way gold medals in the modern era of competition since 1985; France seven times and the U.S. seven times. Nobody else has ever won a gold medal in 4-way. Well, there was Switzerland's 4-way team Blue Magic that did not boycott the World Meet 1983 in South Africa and won the gold medals, but that was before the change of the rules in 1985 and without teams from the U.S., France,or Canada.
NMP-PCH Hayabusa Rounds 1 to 10 - NSL Talk with NMP-PCH Hayabusa
NMP-PCH Hayabusa indoor progression
There have been other countries that won medals, like Canada in 1985, Austria in 1987, Italy in 1991 and 2006, Denmark in 1993 and 1995, South Africa in 1997, Norway in 1999, 2001 and 2003, Belgium in 2008. However, bronze was the best that was left for the rest, and nobody ever came close to the gold medals. This could change at the Mondial 2012 in Dubai. Five of the 11 million Belgians are seriously challenging the U.S. and France for the gold medals this year.
They are ready to do whatever it takes to win for the first time. They have already shown that desire when they gave up their civilian lifestyles and joined the Belgian military, three of them together and at the same time: Roy Janssen, Andy and David Grauwels, plus videographer Danny Jacobs. They had realized that it takes much more training and a whole life of skydiving to become a world champion, just like the U.S. pros and the French state amateurs.
Then they had to find the right fourth member who would be ready to dedicate his or her whole life to 4-way competition with them. The skydiving federation helps with that in France, and the free market takes care of it in the U.S. The Hayabusa 3-way had to find its own way.
Alternate Dennis Praet waiting for his chance at the World Meet 2010
They found Dennis Praet, eventually, who was a Belgian soldier too, of course. The 21-year-young Belgian in the point slot matched the desire and commitment level, and now it was Hayabusa's time to make the final charge.
Many have said that it is much easier if everything is paid for, like for the U.S. pros, for the French state amateurs, or for the Golden Knights. True, it is much easier, but it still doesn't make anybody a world champion. First of all, there needs to be the commitment to live in the Arizona desert for a few years, eat bread, and drink water before you have earned your slot. That's what the original Airspeed members did to build the team project. Or you choose to go to boot camp for a few years instead of pursuing a career with a financial institution in the corporate business world.
Almost all countries on the planet have military services, and most of them spend more money for their homeland defense than Belgium does. I am sure that the three Hayabusa members would have convinced even the government of Costa Rica that they really needed military services and a skydiving team with it. Because THEY really wanted it, first of all.
Live NSL Talk with NMP-PCH Hayabusa - Rounds 1 - 10 at the World Challenge 2012
Bronze medals at the World Meet 2008
All of the bronze medal winners in the past from Canada, Austria, Italy, Denmark, South Africa, Norway, and Russia were happy to be on the stage after training a lot with some support or not from their governments/federations/sponsors. None of them was ready to quit their jobs and go for it full-time, with two exceptions. There are usually three Russian 4-way pros who join forces with a sponsor. The other exception is the bronze medalist of 2008, the team from Belgium, Hayabusa ...
The three Hayabusa members were not happy with bronze medals, not happy enough. They felt that they could get to the very top if they had the logistics in place, and they had the courage and desire to do what it would take. And here we are, four years later, the same three Hayabusa members with Dennis Praet, ready and acknowledged as a top contender for gold medals in 4-way formation skydiving competition.
The U.S., with Arizona Airspeed, and France, with Aerodyne Aerokart, will do everything they can to defend the gold medal territory at the Mondial 2012 in Dubai. Both countries have never looked back; the gold medal position was the only one of any interest, in 4-way as well as in 8-way. It's very different this year. They both saw Hayabusa already in front of them at the World Challenge 2012 in Bedford, and France also at the Paraclete XP Outdoor Championship in DeLand. Only Airspeed has fended off the Belgians successfully at all outdoor competitions so far, even though Hayabusa gets closer and closer.
On the way to gold medals in 2012?
Can the Belgians be stopped on their way to gold medals in Dubai? It will be a tough deal for the two 7-time world champion powerhouses from U.S. and France, as the 2012 challengers are stronger than any other third party before. The toughest obstacle for the Belgians could be their own minds. It is just not thinkable that a country like Belgium could produce a 4-way world champion team. Not another bronze medalist, no, real world champions. The mental pressure on the underdog could be even tougher than for the highly experienced competitors from U.S. and France who have seen it all before. It almost seems like only Hayabusa could be in Hayabusa's way.
The Hayabusa members are aware of that pressure, and they want to be prepared. The military services provide tools for mental training, as soldiers need to be mentally prepared for battle. However, things change when it comes to the jump run for Round 1. The adrenaline and arousal level rises dramatically, even for wellprepared warriors from Belgium. This is still the same for the 4-way veterans from U.S. and France and brings everybody into the same situation on jump run. However, it will be different this year, as it is not a two-country battle for gold any longer. There are five guys from Belgium who are eager to show that a small country can win gold medals. For the first time in modern formation skydiving history.