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Belgian parachuters win formation world championship for fourth time

17:20 16/08/2021

Belgium’s military parachuting team, Hayabusa, have won the four-way formation skydiving championships – for the fourth time in a row. The FAI World Parachuting Championships is currently taking place in Russia.

The biennial competition requires teams of four skydivers to create prescribed formations after jumping from an airplane. The same team from Diest in Flemish Brabant have impressed the judges for the fourth time in a row.

“Because of bad weather, we were only able to do six of the 10 jumps,” David Grauwels, the team’s cameraman, told VRT. “But all’s well that end’s well, we brought the world title back to Belgium again.” That means that Excalibur, the sword awarded to the champion, can stay in Belgium for another two years.

Team Hayabusa
It’s been a tough year, says David Grauwels (far left)  ©Defense

The team photographer is as integral a part of the team as the four who carry out the formations – perhaps even the most important member. Grauwels must also leap from the plan and record the formations on the way down so judges can get a more detailed look.

“Our team has a great deal of talent but also an extraordinary work ethic,” he said. “It was a tough year. Because of the corona crisis and poor weather conditions, we couldn’t train as much as we usually do. Luckily, we’re a close-knit group, and we get support from the military.”

Second place in four-way formation skydiving went to the United States and third to Qatar. There is also an eight-way formation competition with teams of eight and many other parachuting events at the championships.

Normally a biennial, last year’s championships event was postponed because of the corona crisis. That means the next edition is in 2022, where the team will defend their title in the US state of Arizona.

Photo top ©David Grauwels


Written by Lisa Bradshaw