Thurday was the first day of the United States Parachuting Association's (USPA) Canopy Piloting Nationals. The events are taking place through Saturday at Skydive The Farm, which is in the Fish Creek community between Cedartown and Rockmart.
Skydive The Farm is currently ranked the number three drop zone in the United States at dropzone.com, a skydiving website.
“Cedartown should take pride in having Skydive the Farm nearby,” said tandem instructor Turner Drake, an employee and trainer at the facility. “Events like these bring lots of people who go out to dinner in town and use the nearby hotels.”
The event is the first national tournament of the year. Organizers said the top eight out of the 57 total competitors will represent the United States in the second annual Mondial World Parachuting Championship, which will be held in December in Dubai.
There are 57 competitors in the tournament and four have come from outside the U.S. -- from Ukraine, South America, Canada and Denmark. The contests are split into Professional and Amateur levels.
A world record was deemed likely, as the rules previously set by the USPA were changed at the beginning of the year. That means the competitions are all new. The contestants with the best speed, distance and accuracy in Polk County thereby were to become the new record holders.
Spectators Thursday were treated to non-stop excitement.
There was a person falling out of the sky about every 30 seconds. The crowd of over 100 spectators, judges, competitors, EMS personnel, and national and local media would first hear a loud ripping sound as someone's body came hurtling by at around 50 miles per hour. Each competitor then skimmed the top of a small pond creating a shower of water behind them and then landed in a cloud of dust about a hundred yards away.
According to Marylou Laughlin, the USPA Chief Judge for the event, the tournament is a test of three disciplines of canopy piloting.
The first is accuracy. The jumper must go through a series of gates and land in a certain area. The jumpers are rated on a 100 point scale, with a total of 50 points for their accuracy through the gates and another 50 points for their accuracy at the landing area.
The second discipline is distance. The jumper must go through five gates and stay below five feet, then quickly ascend and then land as far away as possible from the gates in a straight line. Contestants are judged by how far they can go.
The final discipline being tested at the tournament is speed. The jumpers must carve through a series of gates set into a curve as fast as possible. Their speeds are detected by laser sensors set along the course. The contestants are judged by their speed.
For more information about Skydive the Farm, visit their website at www.skydivethefarm.com.
For more information about the U.S.P.A., visit their website at www.uspa.org.