Canopy piloting, also called Pond Swooping, involves a parachute skydiver performing aerial feats above a small body of water. The main goal is to navigate a course that challenges a pilot’s speed, distance and accuracy.
Courses are typically made above a shallow artificial pond, called a swoop pond, that has wind blades reaching up to five feet tall. The pilot must navigate between the blades that are only 30 feet apart, traverse along the body of water at high speeds then make their landing at the end.
To score points, pilots will drag their body through the water while performing particular gestures, movements or tricks.
This spot is considered very dangerous due to the speeds pilots are moving at while hovering above or slightly in a body of water.
The sport is relatively new and becoming popular with thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies.
However, in order to become a high-performance canopy pilot, a skydiver must have at least 1000 jumps while having completed a 1-2 year training course. This is just to be considered standard. The professionals take a 2-4 years training and some pilots will have had over 10,000 jumps.
Interesting Fact: 1 to 5% of fatalities are due to pilots not pulling their shute on time or at all. Luckily, automated parachute releases are now required which reduces these kinds of fatalities.
- Air Racing — involves airplanes competing over a fixed course low to the ground.
- Paragliding — riders using para-gliders perform cross country or acrobatic maneuvers.
- Parachuting — Also known as skydiving, involving jumping from an aircraft with just a parachute.
- Bodyflight — an acrobatic sport involving skydiving or a vertical tunnel to perform maneuvers while in the air.
- Wingsuit Flying — a variety of skydiving, where a person will fly in the air using a special jumpsuit called the wingsuit.