Parachuting competition dates back to at least 1930 in Russia, where jumpers demonstrated who could land closest to a target. In 1948, the Federation Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) named American Joseph Crane to chair the newly established Commission Internationale de Parachutisme (CIP), now called the International Parachuting Commission (IPC). The first FAI sanctioned World Parachuting Championships took place in Yugoslavia in 1951, with five European teams competing. The U.S. fielded its first team to world competition in 1956. From 1951 through 1975, FAI-sanctioned skydiving competition consisted exclusively of the “classic” disciplines of freefall style and accuracy landing.
Group freefall skydiving, then called “relative work” and now called “formation skydiving” (FS) grew increasingly popular through the 1960s and emerged as a competitive discipline in the early 1970s. The first 4-way formation skydiving event was introduced at the 1970 U.S. National Skydiving Championships in Plattsburgh, New York. 10-way speed star formation skydiving debuted at the 1972 National Skydiving Championships in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. In September 1975, the first FAI World Championships of Relative Work took place in Warendorf, Germany. Modern 4-way and 8-way FS sequential dive pools were formulated by the CIP in 1976 and first introduced as official events at the 1977 U.S. Skydiving Championships. The Second World Championships of Relative Work, featuring 4-way and 8-way sequential events took place in November of 1977 in Gatton, Australia. “Mirror Image” from the United States won the first-ever 8-way sequential gold medal.
Canopy formation (CF) was added as an event in 1983. Canopy piloting (CP) became a medal event at the 2005 Nationals in Perris, California, and the most recent event, vertical formation skydiving (VFS) became official in 2007 when USPA included it in the National Skydiving Championships at Skydive Chicago. Meanwhile, the original events, style and accuracy, remain a significant part of each U.S. Nationals and their biannual world meet remains the largest FAI skydiving championships, both by number of participating countries and individual competitors.