The ambitious teams and competitors, who wanted to become world champions, had to move to those warm and sunny spots on the planet to train enough, and they did so. Any US 4way world champions were either located in Eloy or in DeLand. The French national teams had the Mediterranean area to keep the winter break as short as possible, or they traveled to the USA.
The winter break is not the same any longer, and 4way competition is not reduced to the summer season. Indoor training and indoor meets have kept the Sun Path Products NSL News busier than ever, and fresh news are coming in all year long. It has been a harmonic merger, and the indoor world keeps growing.
The first NSL Championship was held November 1998 at Skydive DeLand. It was the same year SkyVenture Orlando opened its doors. Bill Kitchen was the inventor of a vertical wind tunnel, which would be able to support indoor skydiving training and attract the general public to body flight. He surely had a vision.
NSL and SkyVenture Orlando worked closely together from the very beginning and brought in teams and skydivers from all over the planet to train in Orlando. Of course, the local and regional skydivers in Florida had a big advantage with a new and unique training tool around the corner. It may not be coincidence that Florida generated two 4way world champion teams (DeLand Majik in 2004 and DeLand Fire in 2006) in the time period that followed the opening of SkyVenture Orlando.
World Meet 2004 Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Rd. 4 Rd. 5 Rd. 6 Rd. 7 Rd. 8 Rd. 9 Rd. 10 Total Avg Rank 4way Open Class B-P-C-18 9-15-16 K-11-19 E-F-7-5 A-J-21-12 6-4-10 17-Q-L-1 H-14-3 13-22-O N-M-D-2 Total Avg 1 DeLand Majik (US) 29 23 17 30 18 19 27 21 19 24 227 22.7 2 Maubeuge (FR) 28 22 18 30 17 19 23 20 18 24 219 21.9 3 Sky Panthers (RU) 24 21 19 25 22 15 28 19 16 22 211 21.1
Several other wind tunnels were built year after year at almost the same speed as leagues joined the NSL Network. Soon the National Skydiving League became an international 4way network, while wind tunnels popped up in many other countries as well.
Teams and competitors - and skydivers in general - saw the advantages of the new training tool and used it extensively. However, it was still mainly a training tool, and competition was only taking place at drop zones and from jump planes.
World Meet 2006 Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Total Avg Rank AAA/Open Class N-20-16 K-J-C-G-3 D-19-B-6 L-14-10 F-17-M-2 Total Avg 1 DeLand Fire (US) 20 27 25 17 28 117 23.4 2 Gap Nice Icarius Autrement (FR) 17 25 23 21 25 111 22.2 3 Sinapsi PD (IT) 19 26 22 19 24 110 22.0
That's not all. There are many other ways in which indoor and outdoor skydiving can benefit from each other. The Florida Skydiving League went back to the beginnings and proposed a program to the same wind tunnel in Orlando that was now under iFLY management. The program was supposed to educate and train new flyers who would eventually join the 4way community in Florida. The same program would also support the teams growing out of the new indoor environment. iFLY Orlando would sell more tunnel time to the participants and to the whole 4way community in return.
This was and is still not the end of this new road, and now I am coming back to the point where my thoughts were drifting back in time. The indoor competition world is just as much at the beginning of an exciting future as the National Skydiving League was in 1998. The number of events has been growing ever since the annual World Challenge was launched in 2006. By the way, I am still going back to cover the event yearly, as owner Paul Meyer comes up with new ideas every time. He has another special treat in mind for the 2014 event ...
The National Skydiving League began to manage a new indoor competition project as the first step to organizing and structuring indoor competition the same way as the NSL Network has been functioning for almost 15 years. The Indoor Cloud League synchronizes rules, competition draws and other components for the participating wind tunnels, teams and competitors.
I was very excited to see the growth of the National Skydiving League after 1998, and I am now beginning to become very excited about the potential of a well-organized indoor competition worl'd. Hey, it's still 4way competition that gets me going - well, 8way is great too, and the 16-footers can support it... Most of all, the success of the FSL Tunnel Kicker program in Florida is showing me that indoor and outdoor world both can live in harmony with each other.