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Making The Summit Solo

What sounds like something said during a mountaineering exploit is in fact my announcement that I will be going the rest of the way to Indoor Skydiving 2020 | First Global Summit (ISGS) alone. My company, Support Air International, has carried the project this far and will definitely see it through to the end.

Roland Hilfiker | ISGS Organizer and Moderator © Dave "Pink" Floyd

"Making the summit as solo!" What sounds like a brief remark made hastily during an ascension to the highest peak is in fact my announcement that I will be going the rest of the way to Indoor Skydiving 2020 | First Global Summit (ISGS) solo. Mrs. Gillian Rayner, the President of the FAI Parachuting Commission, IPC, had advised me already on 24 October that IPC would withdraw from co-hosting the summit for reasons that she specified in a personal email.

Today, 5 November, IPC has made the formal announcement of its withdrawal through a post on the IPC section of the FAI website. While I regret the IPC Bureau’s decision, I continue to be as committed to the project as ever. I probably need to explain some of the wording in the statement that is public since this morning, but I certainly take the “we wish him well” at face value.

I became involved in the Indoor Skydiving 2020 project for two reasons. First, I did have time on my hand after I had discontinued working for a major client at the end of 2018. Second, and more importantly, I felt that some sort of closure needed to be brought to my previous involvement in IPC and FAI policy making (from 1985 to 2001).

I believe that I have given my sport – skydiving – and air sports in general important impulses as an IPC Bureau member and as chair of the FAI Olympic Coordinating Committee in the past. But maybe I could do even more – based on professional experiences gained with my sports communications firm Support Air International over the past 25 years?

That I would bring a certain mind and skill set to the task of organizing what is described in an IPC Strategy document as a “conference to bring all tunnel stakeholders together as was done with the Drones” seemed acceptable to everyone in the early stages of the project.

However, I made it a point to conduct my own analysis of the strengths and weaknesses in the way IPC had adopted indoor skydiving as a discipline and drew up my first conference brief accordingly. I discussed all my documents with the IPC President, the FAI President and the FAI Secretary General.

As to the specific topics for the conference, I strongly felt that a straightforward discussion of governance and related issues alone (as contemplated in the IPC Strategy document) would not benefit the development of the young air sport discipline as much as would taking a more holistic view on the status quo in all areas. That is precisely why I came up with the ISGS slogan: “Tunnel Vision of the Broadest Kind.” My whole line of thinking in that respect can easily be retraced, I have made it public with a number of posts on the ISGS knowledge repository:

Go to Why ISGS | Part I!

Go to Why ISGS | Part II!

I admit that I pursued two overriding objectives with the topics and my choices of panelists. One was to benefit from the experiences made by other governing bodies in their approach taken to embrace indoor and “away-from-nature” variations of their sports. The second was to assemble the one group of experts who will have the final say in all future development of the sport: the tunnel manufacturers.

I also admit that I objected to take on one panelist suggested by IPC and/or Mrs. Rayner on the grounds that I failed to see what this panelist's contribution to the overall conference theme could possibly consist of. Given the tight budget and an even tighter schedule for the summit, I felt that my objection was not only appropriate but necessary.

Rest assured that there is more to the story behind IPC’s withdrawal, but in the interest of FAI/IPC, indoor skydiving and ISGS I leave it at that. For this ISGS organizer nothing will change. My company has carried the project this far and will see it through to the end. Hopefully with the help of hosting partners and the 20+ panelists who will have to reaffirm their commitment over the next two days.

Another announcement will be made by 8 November 2019.

Roland Hilfiker, ISGS Organizer and Moderator

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