Updated: Oct 29, 2019
It started with a draft blueprint for a sequence of brainstorming sessions on specific topics and in pursuit of defined objectives that would, between them, advance the cause of indoor skydiving.
I brought myself to the assignment of defining a suitable format and structure for the "conference" that would, as per the IPC Bureau's strategy, "bring all tunnel stakeholders together" with what I considered to be three assets:
professional experience in the field of sports communications
background in skydiving as a competitor, instructor, drop zone operator, meet organizer/director and, from 1993 through 1998, as a member of the IPC Bureau
enthusiasm to see "my" sport advance further
Before I got started on the format for this conference, I had done my own "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats" analysis on skydiving indoors/outdoors. What I saw was great potential for a win-win situation between the two. I summed it up as follows:
A closer association between skydiving indoors and outdoors – which would automatically result from the Olympic campaigning – could be of considerable benefit to skydiving in general.
Just as skydivers make up a significant percentage of tunnel flyers everywhere, the walk-ons could eventually start to sign up for AFF classes in ever increasing numbers. Always provided that coordinated technical guidance and marketing drive the two groups back and forth. The situation could end up a perfect win-win for both parties.
I did see a number of weaknesses too, but the strengths prevailed.
In nearly all other sports, the affix “indoor” has certain negative connotations such as “not quite the same” or “only during the winter," etc. IPC Honorary President Patrice Girardin used a perfect example in one of his Facebook posts: indoor rowing – a sport of The World Games in 2017 – is the newest FISA discipline. It aims to make the sport accessible to more people everywhere and with very light logistics. What started out as a training method years ago – that should sound familiar – developed into a rowing discipline in its own right. Well, certainly not for the spectators or the TV audiences.
There are no negative connotations for skydiving "indoors" – it is a discipline at one level with what is practiced outdoors.
One of the things that I consider a weakness that would eventually require corrective action is the lack of consistency in the branding and the absence of a generally agreed nomenclature for "indoor skydiving," "body flying" in all of its different forms.
The reservations that some national skydiving/parachuting organisations have towards assuming the governance of indoor would be another important deterrent that keeps me from considering the 2014 integration of the discipline by the IPC as fully completed.
The blueprint for what I termed the Indoor Skydiving 2020 Summit was ready in June 2019 and presented to the PC President Gillian Rayner and the FAI Secretary General Susanne Schödel.
Roland Hilfiker, ISGS Organizer and Moderator