Canopy Pilots Speak Ahead of 2022 World Games

Canopy piloting is one of two air sports offered at the World Games. Two American flyers spoke to the FAI ahead of the competition this week. 

The World Games Birmingham Air Sports
July 12, 2022
Owen Clarke

The World Games, which will take place from July 7th to July 17th, is the second-largest multi-sport event in the world (after the Olympic Games). The Games include more than 30 sports, including many relatively niche sports, such as competitive climbing, dragon boat racing, boomerang, tug of war, motorcycling, and aikido.

Two air sports will also be included in this year’s iteration of the World Games—drone racing and canopy piloting. Drone racing, which tests a pilot’s ability to race a drone around an obstacle aiming to reach the finish line in the fastest time, makes its World Games debut this year.

Canopy piloting, however, has been featured in the Games since 2005. Per the event’s website, “canopy piloting tests a parachutist’s ability to control a canopy accurately at high speeds. After jumping out of an aircraft, competitors spiral downward toward a performance zone—a long stretch of water known as a ‘swooping pond.’ There, as they descend across the pond, they are scored on speed, accuracy, and distance.”

In addition to Speed, Accuracy, and Distance, there is also a fourth canopy piloting discipline, Freestyle, which was introduced at the World Games in 2017. Freestyle flyers must perform pre-declared tricks while flying in contact with the water, eventually landing standing up on the shore. Judges declare scores based on the difficulty of the trick in combination with the execution, landing, and overall artistic style.

Readers can check out the World Air Sports Federation website to learn more about this exciting discipline of competitive flying.

The previous World Games took place in Wroclaw, Poland in 2017, and saw over 35,000 attending the opening ceremony. In total, the Games had over 3,000 competitors from 100 countries, including 66 canopy pilots.

The United States won the canopy piloting competition in 2017, so the Americans are looking to come back strong. Two female American pilots, Robin Jandle and Jeannie Bartholemew, spoke with the FAI ahead of the competition.

Jandle, a Hawaii native, has been flying for a dozen years. “I’m grateful for my family and friends who have cheered me on throughout the years,” she said. “It’s taken a bit of sacrifice from leaving Hawaii to make it here, but I am happy to stay the course and keep pushing myself towards my future goals within the sport. It truly is an honor to be a female representing air sports for the United States.”

Bartholemew is dedicating her flights to a fellow female flyer unable to attend the event. “The World Games is one of my favorite competitions, and I will be performing one of my swoop sister’s favorite moves, the Tick Jockey, in her honor,” she said. “I can’t wait to show the world what canopy piloting is all about.

Readers can watch the World Games’ “Beginner Guide to Air Sports” on YouTube to learn more.

World Games Canopy Piloting 2022 Schedule

July 6th: Jetlag Day (for non-USA arrivals)
July 7th: Arrival day
July 8th: Training Day
July 9th: Start competition
July 11th: End competition
July 12th: Reserve day
July 13th: Departure day (all)


Published: July 12, 2022 | Last Updated: August 1, 2022

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Written by,
Owen Clarke
Owen Clarke is an American action sports and adventure travel journalist. In addition to serving as an executive editor at Indoor Skydiving Source, he is an editor-at-large for Climbing magazine and lead writer for the adventure guiding outfitter Benegas Brothers Productions. He also writes for Backpacker, Outside, SKI, and Trail Runner, among other publications.

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