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Did You Know...

... that that Belgium could become a new Formation Skydiving Powerhouse?

Blue Skies Mag: TURNING POINTS in May
posted May 15th, 2017 - OK, we're talking about invasions this month, let's see. I know about the Sebastian Invasion in the winter, by skydivers from the northern areas of the United States, originally started by Cross Keys skydivers. Then there is an Asian invasion of Australia that I don't know anything about. And then there is the Belgian Invasion.

Yes, Belgium: the small country in the heart of Europe, hosting the government of the European Union in Brussels, the country's capital city.

I have given NMP PCH HayaBusa, Belgium's reigning indoor and outdoor 4-way world champions, enough attention with the Sun Path Products NSL News over the years. Even Turning Points covered the team in the summer of 2012, when they had become a serious contender for gold medals in Dubai.

They did not win that year but it seemed to be only a matter of time when it would happen. Then it took two more years until they became 4-way world champions and they defended the top spot successfully in 2016 with a new team member. Enough of that, at least for now, as they are aiming for the third set of FAI gold medals in 2018.

Belgian 4-way invasion in France: NMP PCH HayaBusa

TURNING POINTS: Belgian Invasion

So, HayaBusa has invaded the 4-way world, but did anybody think that Belgium could also produce an 8-way team at the same time that would become dangerous? I didn't - at least not until HayaBusa decided to enter the 8-way world as well.

The same three HayaBusa members who won gold medals in 2014 and 2016 (Dennis Praet, David and Andy Grauwels) and new Belgian 4-way world champion Jeroen "Bob" Nollet may have been bored when they came up with the idea to start an 8-way project with the Thund8rbirds, a Belgian/Dutch combination in 2016.

The six Belgian 8-way members eventually decided to add two more Belgians to the lineup and continue the 8-way project with the Fly-In Machine 44, which is now eligible to compete as a national team for Belgium at FAI events.

That so far is all about the Belgian team projects. Let's get to the invasion now.

French Indoor Nationals 2017
RankAAA Class10,12,A21,E,9M,J,22,G15,6,Q4,N,1419,2,F18,A,16D,20,3B,17,8P,13,K,1TotalAvg
1NMP PCH HayaBusaBE 26 36 37 33 2932 29 30(-2)29(-1) 3231331.3
2Weembi LilleFR 26 34 35(-1) 33 2931 28 28(-1)27(-4) 2930030.0
3French Weembi GirlsFR26 32 33 29 2529 27 2529 2828328.3
4RealFly-SionFR22 32 33 27 2428 26 2729 2627427.4
5Gavroche WeembiFR21 2832252427 232224 2425025.0
6Espoir Saumur WeembiFR2130292321282422242524724.7
7EchochamberSE213128 2123262422242324324.3
8TenanineFR19292623 22231822222222622.6
9Wom'in PCP BoulocFR182628 2419221920222121921.9
10Amnesya Fly-InIT172527 2521202020222021721.7
11ISR FireFlashBE1826222321222022212121621.6
14Monaco 4FR1626231919211617191919519.5
15Ookpik Armee de TerreFR1722241919191918171919319.3
16Flyzone Les AffranchisFR1724221916201617191618618.6
17Maubeuge Espoir WeembiFR142220171622 1915172018218.2
18Flyspot Sky4fourPL1621221519191418181617817.8
21Corbas Coyotes JCMFR1619161814161616151416016.0
23Airbivores AnnecyFR1421181516171315121715815.8
24Les ZebrechesFR1219181415161211141414514.5
25Vive La Chute Hmmm ShamalFR1318161313141012131313513.5
Belgian 8-way invasion in France: Fly-In Machine 44
There is France, which I have called one of the three formation-skydiving powerhouses in the past, together with the United States and Russia. French 4- and 8-way teams have collected about as many FAI medals as the U.S. teams in the modern history of the sport (since 1985), and even earlier - and they keep doing this.

France recently held the Indoor Nationals 2017 at Weembi, a new wind tunnel in Lille. The French national 4-way teams (French Weembi Girls in 4-way Women and RealFly-Sion in 4-way Open) both tried to get closer to HayaBusa's 4-way lineup, which turned out to be as difficult as before.

Even the new French national indoor 4-way team, Weembi Lille, with four 4-way world champions of 2014 and 2010 (Roy Janssen, Julien Degen, Mathieu and Guillaume Bernier) were not able to challenge HayaBusa seriously on their home turf. That was the first invasion, which was not really a surprise, as HayaBusa is the reigning indoor and outdoor world champions.

France has also been as strong in 8-way as in 4-way in the past, and all of the 8-way world champions of 2006 - 2010 were present at Weembi. They did not compete together to defend their home turf and showed up in several other 4- and 8-way lineups. The last time they competed together was at the Clash of Champions 2015 indoor competition where they finished with a 27.9 average.

French Indoor Nationals 2017
1Fly-In Machine 44BE 2729 252420422927 363529429.4
2Weembi GirlsFR 2326 232120302423 262624224.2
3Veloce QRFFR2223211919302423 262623323.3
6VAirmaxxx VĂ©loceFR1916171616251718232218918.9
7Shamalairlouche ClermontFR1816161616272018181918418.4
8Monaco 8MC1520 171111221816191816716.7
9Team Hell VeloceFR1614141715241017201916616.6
108way Donut PCPFR1617131313201517181415615.6
Belgium: New Formation Skydiving Powerhouse?
image by: Pierre Kotze
The Belgian invasion in 8-way was more than remarkable with a 29.4 average after 10 rounds and it put Belgian teams to the top of both formation skydiving leaderboards for a sweep on French Weembi home turf. Belgium - with teams winning in 4-way and 8-way in France! I call this a very successful invasion...

It's not over here, and now I am relating to this month's article, "Australia's Asian Invasion". There could also be a Belgian invasion of Australia next year. Gold Coast is hosting the FAI World Championship of Formation Skydiving in 2018 where NMP PCH HayaBusa and the Fly-In Machine 44 might both compete for Belgium.

There is no doubt that HayaBusa is the top contender for 4-way gold, and the Belgian 8-way lineup will have chances for medals, as well. Probably not for gold in 8-way, where the Golden Knights seem to be out of reach. Are they... ? Belgium will not have a medal contender in 4-way Women, even though new 8-way member Maya Van Campenhout demonstrates the Belgian girl power. Belgium - wow... Do I have to add the small country to the list of formation skydiving powerhouses now...?

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