George Tang wins 2012 National Parachuting Championships!

16 April 2012

As dusk descended over the final day of the Australian National Skydiving Championships in Toogoolawah, Queensland, 8-way formation skydiving team ‘Velocitá’ boarded the aircraft for the final competition round.

Formation skydiving competition sees 8 people exit an aircraft linked from 14,000ft, and fly and grip each other to create a series of pre-determined formations as many times as they can in 50 seconds. The team’s performance is captured for judging by a videographer who flies above the team. Teams are given 10 sets of randomly drawn formations to complete over 10 jumps – the team completing most formations wins.

27 year old team member George Tang recalls the suspense as the team boarded the aircraft, “We’d been training hard together for over 9 months to perfect our freefall skills, committing countless hours of preparation and completing over 250 team training jumps to prepare for this competition”.

As the aircraft took off and climbed to 14,000ft, the team sat silently, visualizing the final round formations. “It all came down to this one jump – one minute – one skydive to build as many formations as we could. You could have cut the tension with a knife!” George recalls.

As the aircraft leveled off at  its destination height, final preparations were made. Equipment was checked, high-fives exchanged. “I remember looking out at the sun setting on the horizon, the awesome red glow of the dusk sky all around. I had to block out all these thoughts of scenarios where something would go wrong and we get a low score or an unlikely accident would happen. We had done all our training and were well prepared for every imagined scenario. Once I put my faith in all of us, a strange sense of calm suddenly emerged even as the aircraft door opened and the rush of air roared.”

The team launched themselves into the air, over 4 kilometres above the earth. “We could feel the jump was going very well, we were flying at our best and building formations very quickly.” At 4,500 feet the team flew away from each other and opened their parachutes, landing just beside a cheering crowd of onlookers. “We didn’t know it yet, but we’d just posted the best score of the entire 8-way competition, with 11 formations in 50 seconds! It was a dream come true!”

Team ‘Velocitá’ was named Australian Champions, and will represent Australia in the 2012 World Parachuting Championships to be held in Dubai in December. The team has planned a calendar of training at Sydney Skydivers, Picton to prepare to take on the world.

George is currently completing a phd in Materials Science at UNSW with a thesis on “fatigue crack growth of ultrafine grained aluminium alloy”. He mentions, “I must thank my team sponsors, Sydney Skydivers, Cookie Composites and Airsuits Australia. On a personal level, only with the generous flexibility and financial support of UNSW and UNSW Sport and Recreation can I be a part of this success story.”

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