The Ottley Swords
NHL, it's the Stanley Cup. Sailing has the America's Cup. The perennial
trophy is a tradition for many great sports, and for formation skydiving
it is the Ottley Swords, one each for 4- and 8-way. The world champion
of each event earns the right to display the sword at home for two
years, after which the Excalibur returns to the next championship
site to await it's next conqueror.
In 1985, Bill Ottley was visiting London and stopped at the Wilkinson
Sword Co. museum. Inspiration struck - formation skydiving needed a
trophy like this! Well, two someone quickly pointed out, there
being 4- and 8-way, so Ottley purchased two Wilkinson swords and donated
them to formation skydiving. He then obtained (and he is still the sole
source of) the plaques which adorn each sword, along with the FAI logos.
The Ottley Swords have achieved legendary status within the ranks of
FS competitors over the years. The plaques on each Excalibur bear
the names of each winning team. The 4-way sword has been wielded by
several countries, but for the last 14 years it has been in France and
the United States, traditional powerhouses of formation skydiving. The
8-way sword has never left the possession of the United States. And, I
am slightly proud to add, the Wagner name is on five of its plaques.