by Pat Works and John Kallend
The C.G. GodFrog Good Vibes Award
The oldest continuously awarded trophy in formation skydiving, the Godfrog is presented each year at the National Championships to the 10-way speed team that demonstrates the best sportsmanship and "good vibes". The winning team is responsible for choosing its successor at the following Nationals.
The trophy was created by Pat Works in 1972.
C.G. Godfrog Good Vibes Award
History of the Trophy
10-way speed was the original RW competition event. The first ever RW contest was held in November 1967 at Taft, California. Three teams, the "Arvin Good Guys", Elsinore's "The Group", and the "Old River Rats" competed to see which group could build the fastest 10-way star. Subsequently, a number of 10-way speed meets were organized (primarily the Turkey meets at Z-Hills) in the early 70s. At that time dirt diving had yet to be invented, but Pat Works's mother had sewed a bunch of beanbag frogs and the Hinckley teams moved the frogs around to plan their dive flow. They called these beanbag frogs "Godfrogs".
The early 1970's was still a time when "serious" jumpers only did style & accuracy, and RW jumpers were dismissed as long haired hippies or freaks (This is related to the origin of the Freak Brothers, also at Hinckley, but that is a different story). An informal association of RW jumpers came to be known as the RWUnderground or RWU, led by an equally informal RW Council.
As Pat Works tells the story:
In '72, all 4-way competition pool dives started w/ a 4-way star-back loop-pool maneuver(s). At the time, only 10 or so 4-way teams qualified for the USPA Nationals. At the same time, we'd have over 150 10-way speed star teams enter the annual Z-hills Turkey Meet. RW was a hippie 'deviate' sport. Real parachutists did Style and Accuracy. The judges used ground-telemeters and wanted to see style-type maneuvers. We had discussions with them about the reality that formation skydivers did NOT use a style-tuck for maneuvers and that we should not lose points for making flat RW-stable turns. There were so few RW-types that the judges freaked and let us do our thing... The godfrogs 4-way thing included dirt-diving ... no one had ever seen it before. Including us. The real parachutists gathered and giggled at our intense dance. Actually, we started the dirt dives with 4-ea beanbag frogs my Mother sewed up for us. Mother was the necessity of invention. Sitting in a circle, we'd move them around like kids playing with toy airplanes and go thru the dive sequence. A bean-bag frog can sit, stay, and sorta back loop. Plays dead, too. It is more real if you make wind-noises like 'Swoooosh'. However, Fedo usually pretended his frog was a dive-bomber. "Splat!" was a fun way to end a frog-fly. Anywho, after a while we supplemented the Frogs with us standing bent at the waist trying to get the brain-pictures for the sequences. It proved very difficult to party all night, do drugs and remember sequences. Massive brain-fog. The frogs and dirt dives were good mental crutches. Whatever, we won. I assembled the C.G. GodFrog Trophy after that for the Nationals.
The RW Council petitioned USPA for 10-way speed RW be added to Nationals, this at a time when, according to Works, only three DZs worldwide had achieved more than an 8 way (Hinckley being one of the three).
The first Nationals 10-way event was held in 1972 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The Hinckley Godfrogs 4-way and James Gang 10-way teams attended these Nationals where the 10-way event was run out of a DC3. The James Gang had done all their practice from a twin Beech and, according to Works, had previously not used any floaters. The Hinckley team came 4th after "blowing" a jump.
At that time Works was national sales manager for Union 76, and he used to get various promotional items through his job. Among these were some plastic lawn furniture and a 6'2" stuffed green and yellow plastic tree frog which he took to Nationals on his motorbike. The frog's name was Carlos Gene Godfrog. He features later in the story.
According to Works, "There was also a tendency starting up to bad sportsmanship or 'assholism'". At the 1972 Nationals he proposed two new awards, both of which still exist: one was for combined RW (now handled by USPA) and the other award for good vibes and good sportsmanship.
While waiting during a weather hold due to low visibility he took the legs off a green plastic lawn table, wired together 10 of the beanbag frogs in a 10-way star formation, and attached them to the table top. Thus was born the Godfrog Award.
The back of the table top is covered with inscriptions written by Pat's wife Jan, Dick Giarusso and a couple of other competitors, with help "from a lot of chemicals", including lines from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
What brought they
Over the Air and Sea
Six stars and six stones
And one white tree
The purpose of the award was also written on the back:
The Fellowship of the Ring
Awarded to the team emitting GOOD Vibes
in the face of Heavy Competition
Unfortunately the inscriptions were written in black marker, and over the years some have become quite illegible.
Works asked his teammates and friends to take note of which team exhibited the best attitude and had the most fun during the meet. After the event concluded Works called a RW Council meeting. At this meeting they presented the C.G. Godfrog Good Vibes Award. Along with the trophy the team that won it received instructions to pass it along in the same way at the next 10-way meet. Now, nearly 4 decades later, it has become a perpetual trophy for good sportsmanship, passed on at each USPA National Championship.
Over the years the plastic table top has been attached to a larger wooden base, and many of the teams receiving the award have written inscriptions , or attached their team plaque and other memorabilia.
The latest additions to the trophy are Golden Knights pins worn by some of the frogs.
Song of the Godfrogs
Oh come with me and we'll go up there
Where the wind blows cold and there ain't much air,
Where the clouds are ice and your blood runs thin ...
But don't worry, toad, we're comin' down ag'in.
Like a frog, a screamin' Godfrog!
Then back on the ground when the Whuffo's ask "how come?"
And you really don't know,
And you are feelin' sorta dumb...
Well, you may wonder but I know why -
You're a screamin' Godfrog and you love the sky.
C.G. Godfrog (Pat Works)
C.G. Godfrog Good Vibes Trophy
1972 Cripple Turtles
1973 Kansas Homegrown/Humbolt Hummers
1976 Spaced Rangers Gas Co.
1977 The Herd
1978 The Herd
1979 The Herd
1981 The Other Plane Ol' People Folks
1982 Ripped Grissle Thanksgiving
1983 Golden Knights
1984 Heat Seeking Moisture Missiles
1985 Sky Savages
1986 Heat Seeking Moisture Missiles
1987 Golden Knights
1988 Skydive, Party, Collapse
1989 Essence of Speed
1990 Muffies Muff Thrusters
1991 Plain Brown Wrappers
1992 Son of Dan Break
1993 The Muff Brothers
1994 X t Z
1995 We Fear No Beer
1996 not awarded
1997 Tons of Fun (Sonic Force)
1998 Golden Knights
1999 Pink Panty Patrol
2000 Perris Xtreme 10
2001 Chicago STL-TFx
2002 Otter Chaos
2003 Cocktails at 10
2004 Elsinore Armageddon 10 (photo by Tim Wagner)
2006 The Coolest Team Ever! (photo by Tim Wagner)
2007 Arizona Airspeed
2008 Army Golden Knights
2009 Ranch Delinquency (Photo by Christy West)
2010 Golden Knights
2012 What's the Next Point
2013 Butterfly Kisses and Dandelion Wishes (Photo by Harry Parker)
2014 Texas Cowboys
Compiled November 2001 - Nov 2009 by John Kallend from various sources.
Special thanks to Paul Quade, Pat Works, Lori Thomas and OmniSkore for source material.
See also United We Fall for more early RW history.