UWF Chapter 4


Sometimes competition skydiving seems to be a separate type of parachuting. Competition involves high energy, high calibre skydives and good team relations. Here are stories relating to competition. Since annual events have a history, older articles are included so that the continuing change inherent in freefall competitions is evident.

Nexus - Nexus -
And the time winds wail -
Analyze -
What teams do to get good -
With their daily doses of balanced diet -
Donutize, back-in & hop-over-
The basic ingredients-
And the timing practice for crosses & weaves
And analyze -
Those special times past-
When the fantasy flowed and the dives were hot-
The USFET magic was a frame of mind -
There because we believed in it -
Analyze -
The quadra-bipole flash -
And the mood components of organized dives
Analyze, too -
The - the path - the ASC -
The jump run feeling of tuning in -
And that explosive expansion of awareness -
When you're still going fast -
And the world slows down -
To canopy speed -
Analyze -
Competition -
The energy trap -
The price of that edge -
Is a focus too narrow -
No fantasy -
How good a donut
Do you really want to make
Analyze -
Journeys and goals and equating the two
And the multiplex balance -
Of practice and challenge
Focus - variety -
Choosing and drifting -
On an edge -
Not out -
But in -
Analyze -
The air flow and yours -
Swooping and swarming and all that milling -
Valences - slaloms - infinities - pulsars -
Lurk loads -maneuver flakes -
Lounge exits -air flow days
Demo dives -
And coordination boogies
Analyze -
Until -
It's time -
You'll have to pardon me now -
But I'm getting off here -
It was fun writing here -
Analyzing with you -
But that's dirt dive offramp -
And I've a fantasy to do -

Skratch Garrison

Team Chaos at a Sequential Meet.

And now, folks, here comes Confusion and Terminal Chaos at the North American Sequential Sweepstakes.

Introductory Preliminaries.

Chaos reigned! Our 8-man team out at Elsinore (part of the old "Element of Chance") had only six people ... and we couldn't do round #3 of the International 8-man. The big meet up at Fort Lewis, Wash., lost helicopter support, and it was rumored you were supposed to wear helmets for all dirt dives. We had only three weeks of practice left before the meet. That meant that our 4-man team wasn't going to get any practice at all, except in the van. Nevertheless, the big question was "How do you do 8-man team freefall with only six people??"

Ahhh! Dave Wilds (Mr. Clean) joins up with our crew after his 8-man team splits up. As his contribution to our chaos, Dave brought good morals, energy, and a tremendous amount of speed-star experience ... something like 800 jumps with Captain Hook. Gary Boardman counterbalanced this when he joined, skateboarding through ground practice and announcing that he loved sequential and boys.

Goodie, now we had 8 people ... if Bob Schafer (of the USFET) could make it over from the Gulch. Since we hadn't jumped together as a team, ground practice would be a neat way to start out. Schafer arrives, but Doctor Death (Vic Ayres of the "Exitus" team), having wrecked his car, is still at home when the first load is called. Finally he arrives, and we're able to start ground practice by 10:00 a.m.

Ground Practice.

Otis Vanderkolk acts as Captain Chaos to keep ground practice down to a four-way shouting match. Dave Wilds asks if we can't replace the moldy team battle cry: "Blue Sky, Black Death!" with his own version: "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!" The stunned reception is taken for agreement, and team practice starts.

In order to save time, part of the team adopts the Arizona (USFET/Gulch) team's 8-man techniques. In order to preserve chaos, the rest of the team doesn't.

Team Practice Jumps.

Compulsory #3 is giving us problems, but through diligent lack of organization, we have about an 80 percent completion rate on the 21 practice dives we put in before the meet.

In order to keep things interesting, we change the exit order for each of the compulsory jumps. We hang three people outside the DC-3. They act as floaters or base, depending on whose turn it is. To add glamor to whoever is going base on a particular jump, they are termed the "Heroes" of the dive. Where practical, or fun, we carry a three-man hook-up out the door.

To instill team spirit, the exit command is "Get out thar, Stupid!" One guy, a dope-smokin' Tennessee ridge-runner, being about seven feet tall, introduces the team to the "animal" exit by planting his feet against the wall opposite the door and lunging out the door with almost everyone in his arms. Since it was fun, and felt good, we kept it up. This tall guy claims his name is Greg Giles, but we call him "Long Death" `cause it's easy to remember.

People keep forgetting the sequences in the air, so we all promise to "get serious" about ground practice at the meet. (In a show of togetherness, three team members have malfunctions and/or blow up their mains on one single day.)

At last, the final day of practice ends and we plan to leave for the Big Sequential $10,000 Meet at Fort Lewis! Our final team meeting was wonderful. Several of us want to know "Where is Fort Lewis?" (It's 1,250 miles away.) John Hager, from Oklahoma, has a better question "How are we going to get there?"

Getting There is Not Half The Fun.

Wednesday night late, we're zooming toward the North and the competition, looking forward to a 24-hour drive, a good meet. and some hot mega-dives afterwards. The trusty old van is outfitted with a stereo, headphones, CB radio, cruise control, and part of the team. We stop just twice for major repairs. To keep sane, I do yoga in the parking lot, standing on my head, while Gary rides his skateboard around standing on his hands. Gary's CB radio handle, "The Queen of Palos Verdes," makes for some interesting CB talk and adds new dimension to modulation in general.

At Fort Lewis at last, we pitch camp, make four practice dives, and say a great big "hello" to a whole mess of old friends from all over everywhere. Goddamn, it's great to see everyone again!

Pre-meet gossip has it that it will be a close meet, with the top teams likely being Seattle's "Clear Eye," with "years" of practice; Texas' "Kaleidoscope," with 130 practice jumps: the Arizona/Gulch/USFET team (who called itself "Fish" because they were always getting hooked into traveling across the United States at the promise of "all the free helicopter jumps you can make"); and our Elsinore team which somebody understandably has registered as "Terminal Chaos."

In addition, Curt Curtis' team, "All the President's Men," (Pope Valley) were looking good, and people from the "Seagull Squad," Utah, sounded good, too. In all, there were 12 teams entered out of about 20 who had paid the registration but didn't show, due in part to the last minute confusion about helicopters and meet location.

There was a whole slew of 4-man teams registered, but many withdrew, discouraged by the cost of the event and the fact that the four-man teams were given low priority by the meet director. Some 4-man teams had to wait five days to make a jump.

The Big Meet, At Last.

I just love competition. It's one of the best kinds of RW jumping for me. Since it's all "organized" already, all you gotta do is show up, pay your entry fee, wait for your load to be called, and party. Everyone is doing their best flying, and there are judges and videotape TV to keep track of what happens in the air and who is able to fly best as a team.

Dave Singer did a good job organizing the meet. He had some of the best RW judges (including Diane Kelly, Betty Giarrusso, Lorrie Young and Bob MacDermott) lined up, plus the TV videotape from Elsinore.

The Army did an outstanding support job, in spite of the Department of Defense ruling cancelling the helicopters. The Fort Lewis Army Parachute Clubs were beautiful! They gave up their entire Labor Day weekend to help run the meet, hold a barbecue, and support the relative workers! Yea!

As a Bicentennial tribute to the turkey, several teams clutched and blew the first dive. Arizona funnelled and blew their chances. The base formation for the first dive was an 8-man star. We decided that competition was a great place to add a fourth man to our somewhat successful 3-man-out-the-door. It didn't work and the 8-man reform was backward and garbled from what it was supposed to be for flying the wedges 360deg. to redock. Everybody just shrugged, played it by ear, and it worked ... we got full points!

By the time we reached the last round, we had "max-ed out" all our dives, getting full points within working time. On round six we had a slow jump when one man went low on a sequence. We completed the dive but figured we were between 49 and 51 seconds on working time.

But several of the judges had missed our jump, so we weren't sure where we stood. At a team meeting we decided not to protest the jump in the interests of promoting the sport and good vibes, etc. etc .... (We were tied with "Clear Eye" for first.) However, when Texas was moved up with us for a three-way tie after getting credit for a questionable judging, we protested, too. The judges and jury upheld our protest.

Enter Clouds and a Day of Rain.

Dave Singer began to feel the pressure and seemed to flip out for a while, declaring that since it was his meet, he would run it the way he wanted to. The judges said they couldn't let that happen, since what he wanted to do was overrule the judge's decisions.

Jumping stopped for about a day of daylight until the judges and Singer reached an agreement. Dave would direct the meet, but the judges would keep the official score and the jury would decide protests and post the final standings as they judged them.

So on Tuesday afternoon, when everyone is supposed to be back at work, we rejump and blow it, going 4 seconds overtime with another man low. This puts "Clear Eye" and Texas into a sudden death (weird choice of words, huh?) jump-off for first place. "Terminal Chaos" and "Seagull Squad" also went into sudden death for third place.

Seattle's Clear Eye took first. Texas completed the maneuver, but went overtime and took second. "Seagull Squad" completed their maneuvers, too, but went overtime. We chaosed our jump, and blew the dive. Chaos reigns!

It was a fun meet in the air. I'm looking forward to the next 8-man competition. One thing we learned for sure was that our very intense ground practice helped us a lot in the air.


1. Clear Eye Express, Seattle Tie, jump-off
2. Kaleidoscope, Texas
3. Seagull Squad, Utah Tie, jump-off
4. Terminal Chaos, Elsinore
5. Country Hod & the Fish, Arizona
6. Rush
7. Skydive, Canada
8. Swine Flu
9. Western Hemisphere, Utah
10. All the President's Men, Pope Valley
11. Alien Eight
12. All of the Above, Seattle

Pat Works, Spotter Magazine, Nov,. -Dec. 1976

The Team

Oh, yes, a guy bounced.
He fell onto the mountainside.
Comfortably far away. Nice that I didn't know him.
Only slowed the meet down a tad.

Otherwise the best part of the meet were the crazy turquoise lakes
and brown mountain/hills
that magically turn rich green on opening
and blossom into birds and flowers when you land.

You land wondering what in the hell just happened up there?
Gathering bright soft nylon into the routine bundle
you muse on what you flew
and wonder
about the reality of the actual dive
while speculating on what will become the official debriefing story.

Seeing you all land, the monster swings its head and watches
the separate figures walking back in after the competition jump.
It sees the team members as Ego: integral parts of its primeval self.

The monster stirs and its mindless head sets the stage
for the reunion of the Skygods. A Television stageset self-constructs
and single members become one as they gather,
merge and metamorphosis into

Peer pressure. Dodging, feinting, swinging the adrenalin-charged
whip of criticism in unthinking frenzy,
the team meeting blots out the sun with its Karma;
creating its fleeting thought-clouds upon the eternal sky.

The monster flexes, luxuriating in the exertion of the skydive
as each team member reenters the monster that has many names.

"I AM CALLED THE TEAM!!!," cries the monster to all.
"My birth was in the sacred gathering of my members who are my Self.
"My character is ordained by ego.
"My only reality occurs before and after the flow that is called `the jump'."

"I die on exit as each member climaxes
into sequenced perfection
of joy, love and flight.

"I wake after the landings, when the gathering and conversation come.

"My seeds lie in hope. I exist only because
no man is the whole of himself...
his friends are the rest of him.

"While all my members are present in me, I am present in none of them. This is my divine mystery.

"I have no mind and I roam where I please,
heedless of reality.

"I honor only that which I choose to recognize,
and act accordingly.

"Pride synergizes with ego and the euphoria of any success,
so that I AM POWERFUL.

"I decide the how, the when and the where of my existence
in a benign dictatorship.

"Tradition bound, I always live for the future, forgetting always the
everpresent Now.

"My members work around me,
giving me size, coloration and smell.

"I become what they are. Whatever they think they see
is only a reflection of themselves
from the mirror I hold up to their hopeful gaze.

"I satisfy,
but cannot be satisfied.

"I move without direction. By answering to everyone,
I answer to no one.

"I am Chaos."

"Fly Me."

-Pat Works

Fun'N Games on a Pickup Team.

If you really love RW but aren't a member of a 10-man team, it's no excuse to miss a good 10-man meet. just go and get on a pickup team. It's a lot of fun. It's low pressure. You'll do a lot of flying and learn plenty.

How do you go about getting on a pickup team at a meet? Well, you don't wait for a team to come to you. Call the meet director before the meet and tell him that you (and maybe some others) will be arriving to jump on pickup teams. This gets the ball rolling.

Next, arrive early and let everyone know that you are available. If things don't shape up this way, get on the P.A. system and announce that a pickup team will be forming and interested swoopers should meet at a designated spot. I did this once at a meet where people were saying "the teams are all filled." Thirty-two people showed up, and we made three pickup teams. We all had fun.

Jumping at a meet beats the hell out of sitting on the ground. It may be a bit expensive, but you are assured a set number of jumps, and you'll learn a lot. Try it.

When you find an interested, partly filled team, tell them where you fly best, not where you like to fly. Be realistic about your abilities so the elected team captain will be able to put together a lineup that works. Every jump should be planned and practiced on the ground from exit lineup to tracking away, waveoff and dumping. A breakoff system should be decided on so everyone on the jump will know when it's time to track.

As a pickup team, you may be tempted to try to duplicate the tight, fast exits you see other teams practicing. But consider the safety factor as well. A ripcord pulled as a result of a jam-up in the door on exit won't do your team's score much good. Teams with the good fast exits have been building those exit lineups over many practice jumps, fitting each person into the stack like pieces of a puzzle. Their gear has been taken into consideration -piggybacks, or flat reserves, or ripcords installed inboard as necessary. Don't try a jammed, aggressive exit if your gear configuration won't allow for it. Better to have a spread-out exit - and fly sharper to make up for it - than a 9-man star and one man under canopy at 10,5.

This point was illustrated well at last year's Big-Z 10-man meet at Zephyrhills. There were a number of accidental reserve openings as a result of jammed doorways.

Pat Works. RWu. June 1975

So Ya Wanna Go Last, Huh?!

Introduction-We like Tom Phillips who's forever riggin' up RW hardware to swoop lots. He's a floater on Jerry Bird's All Stars.

"Are you kidding me, THAT turkey?... I saw him lose his grip on a three-man..." "No, he's good..." "Well then, tell him if he goes below to stay out from underneath it..." "He can track, can't he?"

So the guy manifesting sticks his neck out and you get to go last for the first time, the object being to get in as smoothly and swiftly as possible without everyone else waiting for the guy who went out last.

Wherever you are on a ten-man Beech, or any aircraft for that matter, you are only behind the guy in front of you. Whatever your slot, from three to thirty, you'll find yourself in the same position every time, right behind the guy in front of you. With a hot exit, theoretically (variable: you), most people will cop to being able to get into a star two seconds behind "the guy in front of you." OK ... far out ... so what do we have now?

Try this. Do you know two guys that make a three-second pin and eight other ego trips who would verbally agree to the "two seconds behind the guy in front of you" gig?? Congratulations, man, you guys just qualified for a nineteen-second flat on paper. Count it up. So why doesn't it happen more often in the sky? Good question.

Original excuses are good jump stories, but not everyone is into competitive RW. That's what I'm talking about. The first time most people try to clean up their act a little is usually because everyone wants to go faster. That is, they have to... "the guy behind me," etc. " No, man, I jump for the fun of it." Far out, may all your stars be fun. Wanna spend $40 to $50 this weekend on some practice "fun" jumps? This is what some peoples' heads are into, and at this point the sport takes on the aspect of Team Relative Work.

"Fun jump" is a deceptive phrase. On the ground after the jump, OK, that's what it's all about. If you fly with people who dig a full-tilt boogie, fun is faster and BIGGER. This isn't confined to stars, either. Try a two-five or three-five accuracy stack from a Twin-Beech sometime. It'll blow your mind. It's the same trip as freefall. You can blow it really easily with a case of "heads-up-ass" flying. Accuracy is RW with the ground. Try it, together.

A great many jumpers would never admit to being competitive, yet all admit a desire to improve. Take your better-than-average demo jumper. If he puts it all on the line for $$$, then he is selling a commodity to the public and should do a professional job. If you think you spend enough time and money "doing your thing" on the weekend to justify wanting to be in the air with people you consider as good as or better than yourself, then you are there.

I had the opportunity to talk and get high with a lot of RW types this summer, from all over the country. Everyone wanted to spread the word... "RW." When the smoke had cleared, all agreed that "consistent" was the key word. Consistent WHAT, though? That wasn't everyone's problem. "How do you guys do it?" was a hot topic.

One of the nice things about manifesting a load yourself is having more of an opportunity to do it YOUR way, right or wrong. What happened at the World Meet is a good example of trying to organize a successful large-star attempt. We had 26 to 30 good RW types and the use of three Huey choppers. Well, the first couple of tries fell short of a record, generated some new excuses and a couple of good jump stories. Everyone gathered in the hangar, and Bird stood up and the skull-session began. Traffic jam, people in the back of the load in a hurry, bad grips, bad flying, etc. The speed merchants were told to cool it, and everyone shook their heads and mumbled yea, do it, go team, kill.

We had only one more try, nine in each chopper, 14,500 ft. and twenty-six RW types with Carl Boenish taking flicks. At about four-five, after a lost grip and a reform at a 25, we held a 26-man long enough to get a nice picture and another "biggest yet" became history. We put our gear down and watched ourselves on video rerun. That was hot. To my knowledge, it was the first time a record star had ever been made during or after a parachute meet. Good aircraft support, good organizing, better-than-average flying, and a 100 percent effort were involved. The right people were doing the right thing at the right time ... Right On!

It is a lot easier to agree to a method than it is to motivate someone to actually do anything but talk about enlightenment. What it all boils down to is a systematic revolution. Any group with enough desire can be in the "head count" at national level. The rules of the game invite participation. About a dozen represented YOU at last year's Nationals. We talked about who should be able to come to the 10-man Nationals, and decided that two 10-mans witnessed by a Conference Director or National Director, with a time factor, was cool, with a registration fee to sweeten the stash for the winner. So the team from Bum Spot, S.C. doesn't have anything to beat but a stopwatch in order to come to the Nationals. Do this and talk with people, and you'll understand that this sport is overdue for an expansion and knowledge on a level that can be considered a true revolution.

Come and listen, come and talk. Be ready to work, relative, of course, to where your head is at.

Tom Phillips, RWu. March 1973

How to Put Together a 4-Man Relative Work Team!

"Get Your Head Out of Your Ass and Get Started." Getting started is sometimes the hardest part. Getting started in 4-man RW requires one of the biggest commitments a skydiver can make. Four people who thought they were the most wonderful, free-fallen, swoopen, dyn-o-MITE, sonofabitchen skydivers ever to scratch their crotch will jump together and probably fubar it up on the first few jumps.

It's not as easy as it looks. It's sometimes as hard on the body as it is on the ego, but with perseverence even a 1000-jump expert can learn to do what is ultimately the most difficult form of competitive RW today -4-man sequential RW for time.

In choosing a team, the most important thing is to get 4 or 5 (one alternate) toads who can fall together without much effort. That is, they must instinctively fall relative to one another. This does not mean that all four have to be the same size. With the development of bell jumpsuits, mini-pigs, flat conventional reserves and other innovative equipment, size and weight don't make much difference any more. There are some limits on weight difference between team members, but the ability to fall relative to the other toads in the air is indispensable.

It is also good when teaming up to choose people you like and think you can get along with. Four-man RW is like marriage (it's hard on the nerves) and unless you have a deep respect for the other members' humanity and ability, your team can easily fall apart from the inside or you may wish it would. Everyone must be willing to "de-personalize" themselves for the team. You may go out tenth on a 10-man jump and think you're the best flyer around, but if the position you'd do best on the 4-man is first, then that's where you should go. With enough "de-personalization" and enough talent, victory is assured.

There is another way - and some teams follow this alternate plan. First: Get the meanest bastard on the DZ. We can call him Ass Hole. A.H. proclaims himself captain of the team by virtue of his temperament. Nobody argues. Second: Get the biggest fellow jumper-call him Happy. A.H. tells Happy he is going out base by virtue of his size. Happy agrees - what else? Third: Get the greatest ego on the DZ and let him go 4th. Put a star on his helmet and call him Dude. Then get another person (or a girl) who is easy-going and defenseless and can bounce off all the bullshit that is going to be coming down with this star-studded conglomeration of mismatched, ill-fitted heterosexuals. You can call this last person Crazy.

This may seem absurd, but in the very political ways that teams evolve while everyone is maneuvering for position, RW teams sometimes do get together in just this way - or in other ways that are equally as nonsensical.

There is, of course, the question of team captain. Really, it doesn't matter who the team captain is on a 4-man team if the team is a conglomerate rather than four individuals, because the attributes of a good team captain should be practiced by everyone on the team. However, every team needs a captain (if for no other reason than to answer the P.A. system at meets and take care of paperwork and other logistics.)

What are the important attributes of a team captain? Basically he is a servant of the team, not the other way around. He must anticipate everything from personal problems to when to get on the airplane. Most of all, he must be a winner, personally and morally.

The biggest service he will perform is giving members of his team the confidence that they are the best skydivers in the world in any given position. He must instill this confidence without saying it directly; he must believe it, he must be sincere because between intuitive people there is no insincerity. If the captain makes a teammate believe that the only reason he's on the team in the first place is because the captain's a good guy, and that one mistake will oust him, then he might as well save his magnanimity. A certain amount of pressure is good, but lack of confidence in his team members is not the right kind of pressure.

This is all you need to start except for one more quality. Desire. Unless you want to win, you won't. The desire to be a winner must come from way down deep. At the risk of over-emphasizing the competitive aspect, it should be reaffirmed that competition is winning and losing. There are many losers - anyone can join that club. There is only one winner - a very exclusive group.

With all due respect to desire and the will to succeed, when it comes right down to the wire it is ability that wins.

Everyone has heard the old drone "Just give me somebody with real desire and I'll make a relative worker out of him; I don't need no Skygod." That is the most fragrant form of bullshit. Everyone knows a jumper who has a lot of desire, good intentions and a multitude of practice jumps that do him no good.

If given the choice between the good jumper and the sincere jumper with desire, all other things being equal, take the good jumper. With enough desire a person will succeed eventually, but everyone develops at different rates. RW is more difficult for some than others. The "sincere" fellow may have more fun making jumps away from a serious team. He may develop ability faster without the pressure of a team.

Marc Cohen, RWu, June 1973

About Evolving 4-Man RW Team Competition (1972).

Four-man RW is an exciting thing to do. It requires an intensity of thought and quickness of reflexes not found in 10-man stars. It is no longer "mass style" as some idiot reported.

Unlike 10-man RW which evolved from the sport, 4-man RW was "invented" by USPA to satiate those of us who dig RW. Lots of brainy people spent many months drawing pictures and writing letters to create this mess. Like Ford's Edsel, it had problems. Like, up `til now, you had to practice out of a Cessna 180 series because the exit was all-important. (And we all know that circus exits do not mesh with the realities of RW.) Now, forward-looking members of the USPA Competition Committee have done a far-out thing: they asked the people who do RW how to fix their Edsel. The RW answer was to chop it into a Pinto:

"Recommended changes to Part 51, four-man relative team event." A meeting of some 35 relative workers was called by Ted Webster on 18 June, 1972. The following recommendations are made as a result of that meeting. Bill Smith's proposal was accepted almost in its entirety:

"We propose that a change be made in the national 4-man relative work rules to overcome the problem of different exits from different aircraft. We submit that a 4-man star be used as a "base" for each series of maneuvers. When the star is broken off, the stopwatch would start. To provide separation each jumper would break off, back loop and then start the first series of maneuvers. No time limit would be placed on the performance of the basic star. Thus it would not matter what type of aircraft a team was practicing with, and each team could come to the Nationals on an equal basis."

Now you can practice this fun event out of any type of aircraft. Since there is now no advantage to an acrobatic exit, real aerobatic RW will determine scores. Your ability is now more important than timing an exit.

RWu, July 1972

About 10-man Team Competition (1972).

"Recommendations to establish a USPA Part 53: A National Ten-Man RW Event." A meeting of large-star relative workers was hosted by Jerry Bird on 18 June, 1972 in Tahlequah following the first National 10-man Star Team Championships.

"... it is the intent to establish a freefall event which will present the opportunity to evaluate the relative work ability and demonstrate the sportsmanship of ten-man teams. ...It is recognized that alternate formations will probably be incorporated into the event. ...The ten-man championships shall be held concurrently with the style/accuracy and 4-man championships. (RW SHALL NOT BE SUBJECTED TO THE UNREASONABLE DELAYS AND 2ND CLASS SCHEDULING CURRENTLY EXPERIENCED.)

... Eligibility: To qualify for the National Championships a team must perform two consecutive ten-man stars for a minimum average of 40 seconds under the direction of a Conference Director ... a $100 qualification fee shall be collected and earmarked for the U.S. Ten-Man Team Fund. ...Teams consist of 12 members ... any 10 may jump ... only four substitutions (new people) allowed. ...No weird exits. ...The overall individual relative work champion shall be recognized... for scores in both 4 and 10-man RW."

RWu, July 1972

My Kinda Star*

Far above an ocean,
Far above tall trees,
Far above creation,
In a world of open seas.

A star consisting of people,
A star consisting of love,
A star consisting of brotherhood,
Is a star from far above.

If you can feel a precious love
For all those in company,
Then you can build a star with them.
Just try it - then you'll see.

*Written by Estelena Fulp, 7 jumps, in Crawfordsville, Ind.

RWu, December 1974

RW Questions with Answers by USPA (1972).

I have spent some time talking to people about the 10-man National Event. Overall reaction was positive. Most jumpers believe that this will open the door to stronger relations between all parachutists. Without going into detail, I will list some of the negatives, with response by USPA spokesmen.

Q. Most jumpers with whom I come in contact do not do style and accuracy. There is some question about the applicability and relevance of the USPA license system to relative workers, since it is based on style and accuracy ability.

USPA. "The main reason, Pat, that I seem to hear about this licensing system is that just because a person has a license does not make them a good relative worker. In all honesty and reality, the exact same is true of style and accuracy people. just because a jumper has a license doesn't mean he can turn a 6-second series or bang out 5 or 10 consecutive dead centers.

"It is much the same as just because a person has a driver's license, it does not mean that this person will be a good driver. It is something that is required by each state and we follow it whether we like it or not.

"The same, I am sure, is true of the USPA licensing system. Perhaps someday it will be revised but I must admit that I doubt it will be done before the 1972 National Championships."

Q. Some years ago style and accuracy meets were a lot of fun. For some reason, this fun aspect was lost. There is a very real fear that USPA may "organize" the fun out of relative work. Many jumpers feel it is imperative that the relative work teams at the Nationals determine their own destiny with minimal help from the national organization.

USPA. "I couldn't agree with you more on that `some years ago the style and accuracy meets were a lot of fun.' I think the main reason they are not so much fun anymore is that the days of a guy lucking into a victory spot are over. To do well in style or accuracy competition these days takes a lot of practice. The same, I believe, is and will be true of 10-Man Star Relative Work. Once something becomes competitive, those who aren't quite so good at it start to lose a little bit of interest -and some of the fun goes out of it.

"There are already some who are disappointed that 10-man relative work is becoming so competitive. This, however, is human nature and I'm afraid there is not too much we can do about it.

"In regard to USPA `organizing' the fun out of relative work, I believe we have this potential problem beaten ... it is the relative workers and the relative workers alone, under the guidance of Skratch Garrison, who are making up the rules and regulations for 10-man competition. In my meeting with Skratch, I pointed out to him that we ought to get as detailed as possible in the rules and make them .absolutely water-tight so they will be accepted, in total, by the USPA Board as a USPA Part.

"If Skratch and his committee do their job correctly (which I am sure they will), the rules and regulations will be accepted in total. Then this particular USPA Part for large star relative work will have been written by large-star relative workers."

Q. The 10-Man National Event will be a test situation for bothUSPA and relative workers. Obviously, USPA may later decide to again ignore large-star relative work, or relative workers could decide to operate without USPA. It is a two-way street. There should be understanding on both sides that a major split in the organization could be detrimental to both.

USPA. "The 10-Man National Event will be a test situation for both USPA and relative workers. I couldn't agree with you more. However, I am not really worried. I have the utmost confidence that if we all use common sense and are willing to bend a little bit here and there (that's both sides), then we will have a most successful 10-Man

Championships at the Nationals. If everyone comes to the Nationals (staff, organizers, competitors) looking for a well-run Championships and outstanding display of skill, a real desire to see the Championships a success, and have an enjoyable time, I can guarantee you that they will get it."

-RWu. May 1972

A World Championships in Relative Work! What Does It All Mean?? (1973)

OK, now adjust your ego to the fact that you are now an athlete of Olympic calibre. Straighten your shoulders and condescend to explain to your short-sighted friends that "your crazy hobby" is now a major world sporting event.

In one short year our thing of precise, beautiful, ecstatic involvement with other people in a form of three-dimensional aerial ballet, with the wind providing the symphonic score orchestrated by the clouds, has been viewed by le monde. And that king that governs all of the world's air realized, accepted and rejoiced with us in the newest of International art-forms - freefall relative work.

After the big FAI meeting in Paris came the USPA Board of Directors meeting in Florida. A heavy thing came across at both meetings - freefall RW is, in fact, a major air sport and is recognized as such. And the big organizations that control all air sports want very much what we want ... RW to continue to grow smoothly into the significant athletic event that it is, with fun and freefall for all. If this is to happen we must continue to work together as an International Union of Freefallers. We are all just beginning, let's begin together. Make lotsa RW jumps. Communicate your feelings on what you're doing and don't delegate the future of your favorite activity to some paper-pusher who's more interested in the glory of piles of paper than making RW jumps.

We're gonna have a World Cup RW meet. Problems can be numerous.

Rod Murphy, the Henry Kissinger of the FAI's RW Committee, made a visit to give us a positive briefing on the international aspects of relative work competition. The FAI's RW Committee is an international group who are watching and trying to not have just a few skydivers or individual countries who, however well meaning, might set RW off on a weird track that'd take YEARS to correct so it reflects what we RW'ers want to do.

Rod was instrumental in the RW competition proposal made in Paris to the FAI-CIP group. He's from South Africa, and here's what he has to say: "The first RW World Championships could be an athletic event or a political event, so we've got to plan ahead. RW people must realize that on a world-wide basis things happen slowly. For example, the current 10-man star rules must be translated into something like 29 languages. That means that each word in the rules will have a different meaning and interpretation to all readers. Plans must be made and presented at FAI meetings. Misplanning, or poor presentation of a plan, could delay adoption of a proposal by an easy two years."

Thus the FAI RW Committee has a problem: the USA Ten-man rules won't do for a world meet where things must be worded like a peace treaty. Translation and politics, coupled with poor communication and differing goals, lead to problems and protests. Protests lead to ill will and delays. Twenty-nine nations can't all think the same, points out Rod, and some countries have a different boogie than the U.S.A. Think about it. If you represented your country in a world meet and were defeated and had to return home where defeat means disgrace and perhaps loss of job or housing, you'd make damn sure you got the best shake you could possibly get. Including protesting for the sake of protesting.

It looks like the World Cup could be a rotten banana mess if every country doesn't give a bit. Let's hope we can let the sport grow; let positive things help the growth.

"What are the rules for judging the meet?" asks Rod. "We need international calibre judges. Where're we gonna get them? In 30 years the FAI hasn't produced competent judges. Where are we gonna get good RW judges? Some RW people don't want to be judged by style judges, and the FAI won't accept separate classes of judges."

Rod suggests we invite style judges to RW meets and teach `em to judge RW. They are experienced and tend to be professional, because after all,judging is a discipline. It's hard to be a good judge when your best effort only garners curses.

The point is, we need judges. And we could use some intelligent articles on HOW to judge an RW meet. For instance, in judging RW the angle of observation on a 10-man star is critical. What are the limits of this angle?

A good start in this direction was the motion at the Paris meeting which was approved by USPA's Board that up to three foreign judges be invited to participate in the U.S. Nationals each year. This should improve the level of international judging.

Remember, the FAI is BIG. Its presidents, vice presidents, committee heads are often Kings, Princes, Dictators, Prime Ministers who banded together in the world FAI as a formal organization to defend the use of airspace for sport. As a part of FAI we are also big and have the power and influence of great men to back our activities. If we act deliberately and in unison.

Pat Works, RWu. March 1973

Here's What Eilif Ness, Norway, Has To Say About the FAI-CIP* RW Committee:

He's chairman of the committee which will arrange RW training meets, gather information on technical developments, and make suggestions to further international relative work competition.

"From now on it is up to the Relative Workers of every nation to work within their own national organization to develop teams for international competition ... and work to have their national Relative Work Teams sent to the different world meets. ... I am not quite sure that the grass roots jumpers in the different countries really appreciate the enormous importance of the decisions that have been made by the FAI, and the responsibilities that are put on them as a result of these decisions. It is now up to the Relative Work jumpers to prove that the work has not been wasted."

*FAI (Federation Aeronautique Internationale) - (The official international group responsible for all aviation-related activities. CIP is the parachuting arm of this body.)

RWu, March 1973

RW Expansion: (1973).

No doubt those of us who have achieved experience competitively or non-competitively in this sport have mulled over the issue concerning standards of competition.

Accuracy is rather basic (though judging a downwind stab can lead to controversy when the first three slots are separated by no more than the diameter of the judge's eye). Style, that lonesome series of overshot flat turns and questionable backloops, seems to leave a lot to be desired by any given number of jumpers one might encounter.

Now we have a relatively new form of competition thanks to countless individuals who prefer the company of a fellow jumper while losing altitude as well as the ride to exit point. Once the first few hook-ups were a success, it was only a matter of time before ideas such as multiplex star formations-snowflakes, caterpillars, skirmish lines and other strangely asymmetrical patterns fabricated by a crew of novelty-seeking skydivers -were conceived.

So we have the three: Accuracy - a break-neck lunge at the little disc hoping to bury it with whatever portion of the body strikes first or maneuvering a half a thousand dollar ram-air backed by another $500 worth of practice jumps to the disc enough times in succession to win hands down-yielding a plastic trophy and/or 25 big ones which is probably spent on a few cases of Budweiser for that evening.

Style is something else again. High velocity acrobatics is indeed a science and an art and anyone achieving a clean nine-second series can certainly beam with self-accomplishment from within. But to convince the majority of today's sport parachutists that to climb to 6500 ft., exit, dive, crank, loop and pull is the epitome of fulfillment and excitement would be comparable to persuading Bill Ottley he'll be reincarnated as a bear rug with 20/20 vision.

In April of `66 I encountered what seemed to me the most awe-inspiring event ever to unfold in the challenging sky above. Having never witnessed a live parachute jump, not to mention freefalling human beings, I was now in the position (at Pop's place, Clewiston, Fla.) to squint into the glaring blue and see two dudes not only in free flight but joined together performing loops. This may seem a bit much to today's blase jumper, but I can't apologize for feeling it was out of sight. Mind made up, 35 dollars was thrust into the instructors' ravenous palm. I would learn to do loops in the sky. Welcome new life. Adios, past...

Ask any novice air-diver who has been exposed to relative work what he's up to, where his head's at. Stars, big stars, small stars, funny stars. Stars slow, fast, disorganized or maybe even round. RW seems to be where it's at for a great deal of us.

Now, just who sets down the rules and regulations for parachuting competition? Why is the disc so many centimeters in diameter? Who concocted the maneuvers in a series? Why a certain size of star or optional altitudes at RW meets? What is really grounds for a rejump? We are merely scratching the surface of formation freefall. We can set the rules as well as the pace. The large number of people involved in RW competitively will add strength to our plea for recognition. We are growing rapidly. In 1970 Z-Hills registered seven teams for large-star heats. In 1971 it doubled; this year thirty 10-man teams were manifested to race the clock. Great ... yet this figure represents roughly 2 per cent of the nation's jumpers; included in this minority were a number of our world's greatest talent and some very hot contenders.

Toss this concept around a bit. Ten-man stars seem to be the magic number in elapsed-time star heats. There is absolutely nothing adverse concerning 10-man competition, except a high ceiling is a must as is multi-engine aircraft. Finances play a major role. And of course, ten willing individuals who will coexist as a unit relatively peacefully. Our skills whetted in the past few years, we can perform 10-mans in the vicinity of plus or minus 25 seconds after exit, thanks to Beechcrafts, Lodestars, large-door DC-3's and other multis. Consider the potentially competitive relative workers in remote areas who froth at the mouth and suffer severe anxiety when a `172 or `180 and a 2000-ft. grass strip is their lot. Ten-mans are virtually impossible for them.

Our awards are now based on 8-man star formations. We are receiving honorable mention for our feats with patches for day, night, low order, eighth slot or better Starcrests. Medallions and numbers all denote our proficiency with seven other high-altitude people. Would eight-man star competition be more desirable as a national standard? It could alleviate some problems we are confronted with, and also boost our strength by increasing the number of competitive teams.

Naturally eight-man stars are performed from a lower altitude - this parallels less cash output. Also, if the ceiling should drop from the customary 10 or 12,000 ft., the competition could continue, perhaps from 7200 ft. or lower. Competitive 8-man stars should be completed at just a shade past terminal velocity. Competitive 8-man stars would allow multitudes of jumpers with only small aircraft availability and limited finances to practice and participate.

There will be various pros and cons concerning this issue. This concept is merely a thought towards a brighter future for relative workers who indulge more than superficially. The aim here is not to abase style or accuracy. After all, they are the competitive forerunners. Promotion and growth of RW is the issue. Opinions of one and all who take interest are sought. Express yourself; you are the sport.

Comment by Bill Newell, SCR-3... "I think it's a hot idea. The only reason it's 10-man now is `cause 10 people fill up a Beech. But don't make it either 8-mans or 10-man-let's have both."

RWunderground comment... We like the idea of both 8 and 10-mans. The Scrambles are 8-man events. Both should be encouraged for competition.

R.W. "Flash" Gordon. RWu. January 1973

Defining Free Fall Relative Work (1973).

This summer the Board of Directors meeting at the Nationals in Tahlequah will probably be the site of heavy decision-making concerning the future of your sport: Free Fall Relative Work.

Decisions made by competitors there could seriously weaken or strengthen freefall relative work. It's kind of like setting rules and restrictions on the growth of a kitten. With or without the rules and restrictions that kitten will become a cat (unless it dies first). The rules could help it to be a nice-type cat or a spitting monster.

Here are some things to think about before making decisions about RW:

  1. What is Relative Work? It is strictly 1 0-man speed stars? Does it include sequential maneuvers?
  2. Are RW competitors the only people who do "real" RW? What about the non-competitors? - how can we answer to their wants and needs?
  3. If competence at RW is rated strictly by ability to make speed-stars could we eventually have the same mess we got into when competence at parachuting was (is) defined by "skill at style and accuracy"? A large majority of jumpers won't compete in style and accuracy because they don't enjoy the hairsplitting that these events have degenerated into.
  4. Is there any real need to alter the basic 10-man (speed star) event? Should we let it alone?
  5. Should there be provisions made for other types of 10-man competitive events?
  6. Can you compete in RW occasionally and have fun with RW, too?
  7. What about judges? We must have more and better judges. How?
  8. Who should "run" RW? Are you going to delegate your vote to a non-RW participant to handle for you? Does your Conference Director do RW?
  9. Should SCR rather than a C license be required to enter 10-man RW events at the Nationals?
  10. Should there be the option for teams that want to make competition jumps from 8500 ft.? Teams that can do it consistently in under 25 seconds sure don't need 40-50 seconds of freefall.
  11. Will aircraft judges be necessary in competition? Some people have pointed out that there are teams which need to pay more attention to the rule banning "circus exits".

RWu, June 1973

Yesterday Should Never Have Quit.

From Capt. Weird: "I'm somewhere where I can't jump ... and I miss it very much. Also all the good people I've jumped with ... I promise myself to return to the sport and people I love... My love to the (past) and original Humboldt Hummers...

"Watch the Beeches fly over,
Laying on a mountain, surrounded by clover.
Thinking of times when we were high.
Think of the times I used to fly,
To ride the floor, with ten more.
One is the cameraman, next to the door.
From countdown to exit it's just one breath.
With a life like that, there is no death.
Yesterday should never have quit."

RWu, June 1975

Controversies On RW Meets Of The Future (Circa 1973).

Ed. Note: We get lotsa mail about RW. Last issue we included some ideas sent in by jumpers around the country on the future of RW competition. These reflected a desire for sequential 10-man RW, maneuvers in addition to round stars, junior and senior classes, etc.

Since then we've received several letters sayin' "Keep it round 10-mans." We are printing one from Bob Skinner and our reply, along with selections from Jack Miles and an open thing from Steve McCluer. These seem the most representative of "the other point of view."

* * *

Dear RWunderground and Pat,

I truly enjoyed your articles and suggestions toward expanding sequential RW into the world of RW competition ... Unfortunately the suggestions did not go over to the majority of people I've talked to on the subject. Maybe it's adverse to what we now know as speed RW ... I don't know what the real reasons are but I can forward to you my impressions of the matter and a possible course of action.

I think we have to remember that 10-Man Star Competition has only been in the Nationals for one year and that it really hasn't been accepted by the old guard of the parachute community. I personally was very demoralized last year, not from the performance of our team which was really poor, but from the complete lack of organization on the part of the people responsible to make the meet successful... I seriously question the ability of the organization to run just a pure 10-Man Competition in a manner that shows the respect our part of the sport deserves. Until they can prove their concern I'd vote for straight speed competition.

Also ... we must consider the jumpers in other countries that have very recently transcended into relative work competition. Until a couple of World Competitions have been successfully completed, it seems fruitless to expand the type of RW we have been used to...

Another point is the ability to judge what's going on. I still see wide variations between judges. Videotape, of course, is the answer, but will it be functional as we need it to be?

On the other hand, sequential RW appears to be the long run direction, at least for a separate class of competition or for determining an overall RW championship team. To this I see great advantages, but only after our meet organizers can hold up their end. I do wish we could hold a separate Nationals at really nice places and have the paid admission support the teams which earned the right to participate. RW really is a spectators' sport, especially if the competition was held

from 8500 to 9500 ft.

The establishment of classes is also an excellent idea. Very few people have even been in a 10-man star which was formed in 25 seconds or less, but they have to compete with teams that make it a habit. It might be advisable to establish classes, but then what's the criteria for a team to jump in what class? - because they want to, length of time the team has been together, previous competition standings, or what?

In summary I feel that 10-Man Speed Competition still has years left before National or World Competition rules should be changed. It's taken your sincere efforts to get our type of jumping into the Nationals, and everyone does appreciate the efforts which have been made. However, I think our efforts could be much better spent organizing and promoting a separate RW National and World Competition than changing the basis on which we obtained our identity. This is not saying that experimentation could not be made at local meets to prove or disprove the feasibility of sequential RW; in fact, it would be a lot of fun. But let's take a real deep look around us before we attempt to integrate changes into the National and International level of 10-Man Star Competition.

Bob Skinner (Former member of the Downers A-1)

D-45, SCS-263

Dear Bob Skinner:

Hey guy, loved your letter. It's concise and well written. I'm taking the liberty of sending it to USPA and the FAI International RW Committee.

On the 10-man thing, I think your letter clears things up a bit. Most everyone agrees that, ultimately, round ten-mans won't be the total RW picture, although they'll always play a big part. The question was: how to change `em and when?

As you pointed out, the answer seems to be to change things when RW participants want things changed ... and not `til then. Anyway, the really important thing is to not make hard `n fast "rules" about what RW is or isn't but just to let RW be what is good for RW. At one time folks thought style and accuracy showed your skill at parachuting. After a while though, all it showed was your skill at style and accuracy. Unfortunately some paper pushin' asshole made it an inflexible rule that skill at parachuting is defined by skill at style and accuracy. And so it stayed that way til everybody said "screwit" and did their thing which is currently 10-man RW. RW could petrify into a ritual, too.

But I sure hope it doesn't `cauz then it wouldn't be as much fun.

Pat Works


* * *

Here's a reader who opposes the views expressed in our last issue. Jack Miles, SCR-570, SCS-44, writes (we're excerpting from his 11-page comments due to space):

"The bulk of RW teams cannot handle making 10-mans, let alone fast ones or sequential maneuvers..." and "...the people that are shouting loudest for alternate maneuvers can barely handle 10-man stars, of any speed." ...(They are just) "Turkeys & Toads..."

Further, there shouldn't ever be both 8-man and 10-man events ... "because of the chaos created at Z-Hills caused by having two altitudes." (Teams in that competition could opt to jump from either 10.5 or 12.5.) "I say if you can do an 8-man but not a 10, then stay home til you can, or move to Elsinore if you are really serious about RW!"

Jack continues to say that anybody who really wants to do RW can get a 10-place plane. "Buy, lease, rent, steal, etc. It just depends on how serious you are!" He believes that the only reason that there are 8-man SCR Scrambles is because "so few 8-mans are made ... Look at the last (Calif.) Scrambles results! Big deal." He also feels that no large stars should be attempted during any meet.

"If promotion and growth of RW is the issue as you say it is, then the propositions put forth in that article should be put down the porcelain facility where they belong."

"In short," he concludes, "the basic premise is OK, BUT it is a few years in the future... I think a lot of people in RW should concentrate on getting their act together in the air rather than running their mouths on the ground..." People want alternate maneuvers, Jack thinks, "only because they can't beat a speed-star team any other way; I'm not alone in these opinions."

Jack Miles

* * *

An Open Letter


My proxy "vote" or statement is as follows: I do not believe, as some alarmists would like to have me believe, that the future of 10-manstar relative work "is in grave danger."

I attended several meetings this summer held by relative workers at the Nationals. It was almost unanimous among those present that large star relative work was over-due in getting the attention it deserves. The policy of USPA has been, if not hostile, at least indifferent. Now it seems to be in a state of benevolent patronization (i.e., humoring us). It was the intention of Pat Works in organizing the Relative Work Council, which really does not exist, to voice the current feelings of relative workers across the United States. The purpose of the RW Underground is to act as a clearing house of ideas submitted by various readers. It is the only voice of relative work in America. It does not create policy, it simply voices it. As a voice of the largest segment of jumpers in the country (i.e., relative workers), it is not a voice that can be ignored by USPA. It is a means to get an otherwise indifferent system to work for us.

The recent article in RW Underground has been taken as the gospel, the "New Law." It is not. It simply expressed an opinion held by many that relative work is better than anything else because it is so versatile. If you shoot accuracy, all you can do is ride a canopy and try to get dead centers. If you turn style, all you can do is figure 8-back loop-figure 8-back loop ... and nothing else. If you do anything in free-fall with more than one person you are doing relative work, whether it be two-man, four-man, or ten-man.

Style used to be the epitome of freefall. Now it has stagnated into a dull routine. Relative workers in every state of the country are unanimous -they do not want relative work to become a routine.

To the charge that the RW Council is going to do away with ten-man stars, I say that is a lot of bull shit. In the first place, you are the RW Council ... at least you would be if you would write a letter or express some kind of opinion where somebody can hear it and do something constructive with it instead of whining and bitching among yourselves. But that is off the track. The point is that a great many people want to see RW remain versatile. Most of the "big shots" at Elsinore consider themselves to be hot shot relative workers but a lot of them look pretty sick when they have to do anything other than make a circle ... so maybe they aren't relative workers in the truest sense - they're just star makers. I doubt very much if even USPA would be stupid enough to do away with ten-man stars. What they would do is add another event in which more than just stars are made.

Look at it this way. In "conventional" jumping you could enter the Nationals and compete in just one event, either style or accuracy, but you could not get overall. The same could be true of relative work - if you want to, you could enter just the ten-man star competition and not the whole thing ... but you could not win overall. USPA has already expressed a desire to have an overall relative work award. It is up to you to decide how it should be run ... but Goddamn it, don't sit around crying because that ain't gonna help a thing!

I suggest you write your indignant letter and your petition or whatever you have in mind and send it to the RW Underground. They're on your side. They are not going to take away your right to make ten-man stars. By the same token, please don't take away the right of others to do something else and to compete in it. Dig?

Steve McCluer, "Father Farkle"

* * *

Now it's MY turn:

I know I'm repeating myself, but I still say that since RW is a sport and an expression of beauty I don't believe we should allow ourselves to be stuck in a mold of something that only some participants are into doing.

If we lock into 10-mans and make it "official," USPA and FAI will put it all on paper and it'll be "decided" for us.

But there may later be a larger group of RW'ers who'll continue to do their own thing and have fun. Look at the popularity of RW festivals. Look at the unanimous vote of the competitors at Z-Hills to add other types of RW to competition rounds.

Where will we be then? Right where we were in 1967 with style and accuracy when most of us let USPA and a small group of "serious" competitors take our sport away from us.

We aren't saying to stop 10-man. They're too much fun. We ARE saying that 10-mans probably aren't the ultimate form of RW. And we ask that we do not make lots of rules about "what is RW" cause it'll all change in a year no matter who writes it down anyway. We want to promote and further RW.

Pat Works

RWu, March 1973

    Looking at it, it clouds over;
        not looking, it becomes clear.


Lao Tzu on RW:

Those who would take over RW
And shape it to their will
Never, I notice, succeed.
RW is like a vessel so sacred
That at the mere approach of the profane
It is marred
And when they reach out their fingers it is gone.
For a time in the world some are skygods
And some are turkeys.
For a time in the world some push aboard
And some are tipped out.
At no time in the world will a man who is sane
Over-reach himself,
Over-spend himself,
Over-rate himself.

Adapted from Lao Tzu, 500 B.C.

The Third Alternative.

A "non-competitive" skydiving event tends to draw more people and create more general enthusiasm than does a traditional parachute meet. Witness the 1976 Nationals where over 1,000 skydivers showed up to boogie, while less than half that many competed.

This is NOT to say that non-competitive jumping is "better" than competitive-style parachute meets. However, anyone who has been deeply involved in both types of jumping will agree that "fun" meets or boogies are very real and exciting. Note the number of hard-core, non-serious teams at the Z-Hills Turkey Meet every year. Although the total number of teams climbs every year, there are seldom more than five hard-core "serious" teams. In fact, good pick-up teams always seem to place in the top five!

What does all this say? It says, loud and clear, that skydivers like fun and challenge more than anything else you're selling. Fun meets attract more jumpers than serious ones. It's not just the organization, but the type of jumping that wins out.

Serious teams may be the best way to win meets... but serious team jumps are not for everyone the best way to have fun. I base that observation on more than 15 years of successful team jumping and watching others team jump.

Think about it... the Nationals are over. Everyone unwinds. Some quit jumping. Most team members have a hard time adjusting to the slower "fun" jumps. Weird formations throw everyone's RW act into the street; we are all more even when attempting something new.

Importantly, if the level of jumping has exceeded the judges' ability to call and if skill in the air has exceeded our ability to write rules ... if flight has become generally perfect so that a 6-jump meet is hardly more than a warm-up that says nothing much about skill but rather shouts about luck and the judges so that meets are won and lost based not on skill but on happenstance ... then, oh then, you begin to see the point of boogies.

Jumpers who don't quit the sport in disgust band together with others who share their ideas about perfection of flight for informal fun meets designed to test individual skill, foster group learning... and be fun.

A while back, relative work was an alternative to style and accuracy for a large group of skydivers whose patience with the old order had grown thin. Today, we see alternatives to even the new so-called "advanced" forms of relative work competition.

At Elsinore, Calif., on Labor Day 1977, a freefall meet was held that was an alternative to traditional RW competition. It was called "The Third Alternative". The meet was an original idea of Bret Leininger, and hosted by Elsinore team "Enough Chaos". Four 10-person teams were invited along with three of their peers as judges. I participated as titular meet director and jumped with Chaos. Here's what came down at the meet ...

The four teams were formed by relative workers from Pope Valley, Elsinore and Arizona. All four would have scored high, if scores had been kept. Everyone "won"... including the "judges" who were Jerry Bird, from Utah, Al Krueger, from southern Calif., and M.J. Haught, from northern California.

The rules were simple. Three teams brought a dive and showed the other teams how to do it. The meet consisted of everyone doing all the dives - their own and those of the other teams. The judges, or evaluators, were all air judges. Each one watched each team attempt the same dive. At the end of the "meet" each judge told the assembled competitors how they saw each team perform their assigned jump, and how they thought the dive went compared to the other teams' attempts at the same dive.

For example, here is the entire organization of the "meet":

  1. The Teams The Dive
    Pope Valley (PV) "Aggregation" (No. 1)
    Enough Chaos (EC) "Green Light" (No. 2)
    Arizona (Az) "Casa Gram" (No. 3)
    Lurking (Lk) (Performed dives 1, 2 & 3)

  2. The Manifest (who performs which dive on what round) DC-3exit order

    Load 1 PV does No. 1; EC does No. 3; Az does No. 2 (Lk stands down)
    Load 2 PV does No. 3; EC does No. 2; Lk does No. I (Az stands down)
    Load 3 EC does No. 1; Az does No. 3; Lk does No. 2 (PV stands down)
    Load 4 PV does No. 2; Az does No. 1; Lk does No. 3 (EC stands down)

  3. Judges

    Al Krueger watched dive No. 1, "Aggregation"
    M.J. Haught watched dive No. 2, "Green Light"
    Jerry Bird watched dive No. 3, "Casa Gram"

Bret Leininger spent many energetic hours putting the meet together. At the "Victory Banquet" after the meet, everyone was treated to roast turkey, stuffing, Caesar salad and beer. For dessert there were 18 different flavors of ice cream and sundae toppings. The judges reported on the jumps, and accompanying each report there were several bottles of ice cold champagne. Corks flew and the bubbly flowed with the telling of the jumps. It was a very mellow and happy scene.

Here's how the dives went:

Dive No. 3 ("Casa Gram") involved six separate sequences (see illustration). The starting, or base, formation was a 10-person donut-flake. The sequence progressed like this:

  1. donut-flake (breaks into stairsteps)
  2. five 2-man stairsteps (redocking into)
  3. 10-man slot-flake (grip changes into)
  4. 10-man wedge, opposed (breaks into)
  5. 4-man opposed diamond with two flanking 3-man wedges which redock into
  6. 10-wedge, facing
    ... which tracks off into the sun.

On Dive No. 1 ("Aggregation"), two 5-person murphy-type 5-mans build side by side in the air. Then one person leaves each 5-man to form a third formation in the center. With each sequence, another single person leaves the outside two formations and joins the growing center formation. So, this dive starts with two 5-man formations with nothing connecting them, and progresses to two lurkers flanking an 8-man donut-flake, ending with a 10-man in-out. (See illustration!)

These instructions go with "Aggregation":

"The two leads set up on aircraft heading, about 15 ft. apart. The formations through the rest of the dive should not get out of position, either horizontally or vertically. Level and 15 ft. apart is the order of the day.

"The people with *'s are the ones who move to the center formation on the transition. The 5-person in-out and the following 4-man donuts fly on each other. The 2-man stays centered. Once the Bipole in the center is built, the focus shifts to it and the outer formations fly on the center one for the rest of the dive. Completing the sequence is not very important. The focus of the dive is the flying both in and out of the formations."

Whew! Hot skydive!! Here are some of the comments air judge Al "Capt. Hook" Krueger made about it:

"I watched Pope Valley do their own dive on my first jump... fine base formations ... on first sequence left donut was higher and the formation had to go down to make the next sequence. Very close to completing the 6-wedge (flanked by two 2-man cats) when this air judge got scared and left. Probably the most thoughtful, imaginative and heads-up flying I've been in the air with. This team had not "over-practiced" and had their own struggles when things didn't go smoothly.

"On my second jump I watched Lurking perform the same dive. Very clean and concise and for a first-time team they seemed well-practiced. However, they didn't have the experience in simultaneous formations, and as a result, the formations were rather far apart ... discipline and persistence were both evident... Gosh, being an air judge is a great experience!

"I watched Chaos on my third dive ... they went nearly as far as the others. However, they were more chaotic. They over-amped as a result of my dirt dive descriptions of the problems the other teams had encountered with the dive, and this caused them to put their base formations too close together ... these almost stacked on top of each other at one point ... They were making the 6-wedge when the air judge got scared..."

Al's concluding remarks were about the concept of the meet:

"For the future it has great possibilities - no regimentation or completions required... Don't do anything that will stifle the free exchange of ideas that have been shared here ... keep it small and without restrictions. Maybe the team with its dive should bring their own judge to help the "competition" learn how to do the dive in dirt dives ... I found it easier to critique the dive when I learned it..."

Finally, M.J. Haught gave her "air judge's score" in the form of a TV news show commentary. It was a great ending to really good "meet". Here is M.J.'s evaluation with authentic juicy news "tidbits" thrown in for added spice:

"Good evening and welcome to KOKE Television News. KOKE-TV is first and foremost in skydiving reporting across the nation and throughout the world.

"Court procedings against Bullet Betty Hawkins are now underway. Ms. Hawkins is charged with fraudulently representing herself as a 12-year-old in order to get children's rates on jump tickets. In defense of Bullet, the ACLU maintains that jump tickets should be sold according to the individual's weight. In retaliation, heavier weight skydivers will be staging a demonstration tomorrow. The state militia are standing by for outbreaks of violence.

"On the national scene, the Union of Bakers and Pastry Chefs is suing U.S.P.A. for the great number of donuts being made every weekend by skydivers. `The bakers and pastry chefs maintain that skydive donuts are presenting a poor image to the eating public because freefall donuts are fallen instead of raised.

"In New York, an auction of rare collector's stamps made an unusual expansion of merchandise. A high bid of $6,240 purchased a 1975 issue Casa Gulch jump ticket.

"The U.S. Department of Defense is investigating reports made in the Pope Valley area of UFO'S. The objects are reported to resemble the Star Ship Enterprise of Star Trek fame.

"Joe Morgan has been accepted for psychiatric care as he seems unable to cope with the realization that he and his friends are those people our mothers warned us about.

"This weekend, Elsinore was the site of an invitational meet that may prove to be a turning point in skydiving competition - for the meet eliminated competition. Instead, the meet encouraged creativity and innovation in skydiving and communication among divers from several drop zones.

"The dive presented by Enough Chaos dealt with no-contact flying, which is an excellent method of developing one's individual control of one's own airspace. Each person must do their own flying. No just hangin' on for the ride. By transitioning from a connection to triple donuts to reverse triple donuts, the divers become aware of the necessity of visual eye contact when centerpointing donuts.

"When Chaos performed the dive, they displayed the aptness of their team name. They discovered that a sliding base on a no-contact dive is more challenging than on a contact dive. But undaunted, they proceeded to complete the first set of triple donuts. In this instance, it may have been more efficient to build the beginning connection maneuver contact, and then, on signal, release grips, fly the connection no-contact, and then proceed to the triple donuts.

"For many of the Lurkers, no-grip flying was a new experience. Group consensus on the ground was a) it was fun, b) they had learned a lot and c) let's try that again. Again, as with Chaos, a lot of time was spent on the first maneuver and it needed to be closer in when turning to the donuts. With beautiful salvage flying, they created triple donuts from a funnel.

"The Arizona team followed the principles of grace and beauty as the precision 4-person donut-machine base set the pace for clean flying. By maintaining the flow of manuever to maneuver, they were able to complete the series and track their 10-wedge toward the peas.

"The invitational meet succeeded in stimulating excitement over new ideas. Each team will be eager to try out these new concepts on their home drop zones and pass the word on to those who could not come. Hopefully the format of this meet will be continued. Let's maintain the openminded. Let's remember that the most important goal is communication. Thank YOU, Chaos, for hosting this innovative meet."

Dive No. 2 ("Green Light") instructions:

  1. Base formation is done without any grips.
  2. The six people outside the 4-man are all lurkers. (Need to keep tight.)
  3. Base four does right hand donut, lurkers do left hand donut. All turn at the same time.
  4. Key for the turn needs to come from the base four. (Lurkers just react.)
  5. Third maneuver, if time, would be to cog the two outside donuts. (The middle two remain where they are.)
  6. Or, reverse the donuts (donut madness).

Pat Works, Parachutist, February 1978