Aug 22, 2002, 8:59 PM
Post #1 of 12
Diving at a formation
Hey all !
I don't post often, but would love some advice from everyone here !
I have 194 jumps and have been working on various aspects of my RW skills. I've been making good progress w/ everything (side slides, orbiting, fall rate tweaking, centering turns, tracking better and better yada) EXCEPT diving at a formation.
here's what typically happens:
A: 90% of the time I go into a dive and am carrying too much forward motion, so I have to fly from one side of the formation to the other as a I catch up to it (slowly I might add) and end up spending a lot of time over the formation (bad bad) and get there last.
B: 5 %: I don't know how I do it, but I get a great dive and get there first, dock softly, and fly my ass off, great skydive for me.
C: 5%: get there waaaay early and shoot right over/under the formation while trying to slow down and dock.
I guess I am asking.. what body position do you use to get a good dive w/ minimal forward motion and still be able to stop it when you need to during your approach to the base ?
I'm not exactly any kind of authority on FS but here goes...
First of all: Don't dive directly at the formation! If you fail to apply the brakes your going to crash into the formation, and the others won't be happy. Instead, aim at a point on the side formation. That way, if you have too much speed, you wont collide into anyone.
>and end up spending a lot of time over the formation (bad bad)
Yes. Very bad. I hope you don't mean directly above the formation? A bad place to be if someone in the formation has a premature deployment...
What I do when diving after a formation, is that after diving out of the plane, I transition to the diving position before getting belly-to-earth. I dive in a pretty much track-like position, except without the de-arch. Diving after a funneled formation is more difficult for me too(if I have to start from a belly-to-earth position.).
One last tip: While your diving towards the formation(or rather, to the point next to the formation, remember?): If the formation is getting visibly bigger, it's probably time to apply the brakes.
Hope this helps, any input from the more experreinced divers would be appreciated.
Here is some of the advices I've recieved when diving down to a formation. - Dive down but try to stop 5 meters above, and 5 meters before (horizontal) the formation. This will prevent you from going low. Besides it's common to not being able to brake fast enough. This gives you a safty buffer. When you have stopped the dive, slide slowly into your slot.
-If you go low don't head directly at the formation. If you do that and look directly at it, it's difficult to de-arch properly. Turn 90 degrees at the formation and dearch until you're over again and slid into your slot.
As for body position I found that arching and steering by putting my arms back like tracking is a great way to manuever into my slot.
I've had some fs instruction from some really good instructors. On one jump with instruction, I've learned more than I would have by doing 50 without. Paying for instruction could be well spent money. (However, I'm lucky enough to get some free instruction jumps, sometimes with video from my dropzone. They hire in instructors that jumps for free with whoever wants to. My home DZ rocks that way .
I'm still just a newbie with 65 jump on my back, but hope this gave you some ideas to work with.
Formation Skydiving, as Airspeed coaches taught me, is all about this, regardless it is a 2-way, 3-way, 4-way, 8-way, 10-way, 100-way or any other big way:
"Fly the shortest path (line) - if you have 2 meters to go from here to there, your center of gravity should follow that line, regardless you have to turn or not while doing that movement; why fly 5 meters if you can do it in 2 meters? So, aim at your target or next slot and fly there; don't fly to the right, left, top or bottom of that point (remember that FS also has 3 dimensions, as you can go higher or lower...)";
"Just use the speed you can control - if you are not yet capable of stopping your move instantly or almost, but instead you use (for example) 10 horizontal meters and 5 vertical (relative to the formation or target where you are aiming to dock), that means you are using excess of speed for your skills; so, on the next try, use a little bit less speed, and if you are yet not able to dock exactly where you would like to, but instead you used just 2 meters to stop, that means this last speed is becoming adjusted to the speed you can stop; the moment you feel you can stop where and when you wish to, that means that you've found the speed you can control; with training, the speed you can control will increase. To avoid collisions, while you are in this process of speed controlling, when aiming at a target of formation, fly straight there, but do it gradually, so if you need you can stop before and still have some space to fly forward and below (because when approaching a formation from long distance, you shouldn't do it from below); it's a kind of steps approach, while getting close both horizontally and vertically; in 4-way is a little different: we are very close from each other, but the same principles apply: flying the shortest path (except for some super-positioned movements) and always adjusting levels (without thinking about it - should be a second nature process, otherwise you'll forget your dive)";
"Applying the previous concepts, is doing the following cycle, at the speed you can control, but observing each of these steps in a religious way: you can not omit any of them; the top teams and the world-class skydivers in FS do it, except they do it at a high speed, because they can control that speed... it's a continuing learning process. The steps are: MOVE - STOP - LOOK AT GRIPS (if you have grips on your left side and right side, establish a grip plan, reaching first for the left or right and then for the remaining grip, but always looking as you can not look at the same time for your left and your right...) - GRIP - LOOK (at the person who will give the key for the next point or transition and be prepared to go to the next point; by looking at that person, he/she will know you are ready to the next point; so when you look think forward on the sequence and don't think about what you may have done right or less right - there is no wrong as we should think positive and not negative; if it's your key, before you key you have the additional task to ensure yourself that everybody is ready to fly to the next point) - MOVE (on the Key)..."
Don't crucify yourself on the negative aspects (things you were not able to do); instead, reinforce your positives and practice more those you feel still require a lot or at least some work, while keeping the good work with those you do well. You have less than 200 jumps, so that it's normal... be humble, because one of the biggest lesson I had from on Airspeed coach (besides all these) was after a skydive where the exit turned a little bit (during a skills camp at Eloy), we were trying to find a reason on each of us (except on the Airspeed coach that had jumped with us, who was and still is a World Champion): he's just said - forget! I'll have to improve the way I present to the relative wind... this is a lesson, meaning that even with 15000 jumps you'll do things in less adequate way, but that it's the beautiful, otherwise, we would reach perfection and sport would loose interest.
last diver is my favorite slot on big ways, here's what i do. Usually we exit a tailgate for big ways. When exiting to get a good dive, imagine putting your head between your feet. obviously teh wind will not let this happen, you will end up in a dive, almost head down in nature. keep the formation in view, i belly out when the formation is about 50 feet from me vertically. I always stay along the perimeter, watch it build from there. At abotu 50 feet I just use a stronger arched belly position to close the distance. Keep in mind that as a formation builds it loses speed: that 180 mph base is going to quickly drop back to 120 or so, be prepared. Approach the formation on level and always stop fully before you take grips.
A long swoop to a formation is very satisfying, but seems to be a skill that gets neglected with all the emphasis on 4-way and docked exits.
We do a lot of practice jumps where one (usually the mentor) leaves the plane and sets a fall rate, and the other(s) wait a second or three before exiting, and swoop to dock. After docking, one dives away and the other(s)chase and dock again, etc. etc. Practice makes perfect, and you can do it with a just a two-way.
What works for me is to catch air on leaving the plane so as to use the prop blast to help close the horizontal distance. After about a second I put my arms by my side, hands behind my back (under my BOC pouch), head down, steer with my shoulders and control vertical position with respect to the base with my legs.
You can easily achieve a closing speed on the base of 50mph or more, so you need plenty of time to stop. Judging when to do that can only come from experience.
It's hard to stop fast if you are overweighted! I always jump with weights because I'm skinny, but I take a couple of pounds off if I'm a late diver on a large formation.
I had a lot of trouble getting down to a formation quickly. It seemed like I wasn't tracking down steeply enough. This caused me to do a lot of extra flying just to get down there. I tried various things, but what I have been doing lately is spreading my legs more so they have more drag. This allows me to track downward at a steeper angle in more of a head down position. I'm not fully head down but tracking at a very steep angle. I can still see the formation building and I'm not flying all over and getting into other people's air space. I'm not an expert on this, so feel free to correct me if you can see something wrong with this, but it seems to be working well so far. Steve1
these are exactly the tips I am looking for.. I think I am in too much of a delta sort of position.. Im going to try getting my arms along my sides more(I'll try grabbing onto my rig to make myself do it), and dearching more.. can't wait to try it on my next jump..
Arghh.. forgot my reserve is being repacked now. will have to wait a week.
If you ever get a chance do a "speed star" out of a DC-3 except where the 1st person out is the base. I've never learned more on a dive than on that one, it's all out diving and tracking, and learning how to pass safely. I was something like the 8th person out and docked 3rd, (the people in front of me never got there). Don't forget when diving out you are on the hill so for a few seconds when tracking you actually can't see it, just trust it's there and fly to it. When you see it again depending on it's size and which diver you are becareful not to quit diving just cause it looks like it is right under you, both you and it could still be on the hill. I've done that several times, then when everything levels out I'm far away from it or above it cause I changed the way I was flying threw the air and riding the hill.
If you are docking on one of the sides remember to aim to that side and out from the formation, fly to your radial then turn to fly into the formation. By doing this you are lined up with your slot, you don't cut anyone else off and if the people you are docking on aren't there you are able to fly to your slot and wait for them to arrive to pick up grips. Which is what I had to do the the MT womens record, in the video you can see both sides of my loop having trouble and me sitting in my slot behind my base person waiting for them to get things figured out.
I'm the one in the red circle this was taken on our second attempt since my loop never got the backsliding issue figured out, actually if you look you can tell there is still some backsliding going on, on my right. Line of flight is the red arrow. Just for info's sake this was a formation load Skyvan and S.Otter. I was 2nd to last diver out of the Skyvan, but some how ended up having to be the last person to dock on my loop.
(This post was edited by skycat on Aug 24, 2002, 1:49 PM)
You'll have to train your body to dive and swoop correctly, but you'll also have to train your eyes. That can be very hard depending on what you're doing. For example, on one formation load I was on (112 way) I was last out of a far-left trail, so I had to dive out without being able to see the base, look left and down (from my point of view) figure out where the base would be in 20 seconds, and start diving to that point. When I dive, I usually lose sight of the base for maybe 5 seconds until I'm off the hill, so I have to know where it will reappear.
As you're approaching, set up so you have the right "sight picture." You should be in your radial, which you can see from looking at your angle relative to the base. It should look just like the base did during the dirt dive relative to you. You should be slightly above, so expect to see backpacks. You should be pretty far out, so expect to see people 50-100 meters away. And most importantly, the formation should _not_ be getting bigger quickly - you should be out of your dive and just driving forward at this point,
As you approach, make sure the formation is getting bigger at about the same rate. Since we see speed more easily when we're close, that means you'll be gradually slowing as you approach, which is what you want. When you get within 1 meter or so of the formation, you should be just about stopped. For that last meter, drive in hard (you will have to drive to overcome the wake of the formation) stop in your slot, either on level or three inches low, and _then_ pick up grips. Being high when you dock is a very, very common problem - train yourself to see bellies, not backpacks, before you pick up grips. Also, make sure that when you do pick up grips, you don't reach. You should be right there, about 3-4 inches from your grips, so you can just reach out and take them.
Then, once you're docked, keep flying. Do not get there and say "AAhh! I made it!" You're not out of the woods yet. Fly with your opposite or the base, whatever your job is. Drive to the center. If you feel pressure on your grips, it's almost guaranteed to be your fault. Stick your legs out and get your chest in towards the center. If you can't stick your legs out without popping up, get more weights or a tighter jumpsuit for the next dive.
I've watched hundreds of videos of big-ways, and from an organizer's perspective, here's what we see that makes people look really bad:
1. Turning sideways or 180 around to try to slow down - indicates poor planning on the approach.
2. Docking with momentum. This can take out a formation, and is obvious because everyone else moves when the jumper docks.
3. Docking from above. Also obvious because there's a flurry of leg activity as the jumper tries to keep from flipping forward through the formation.
4. Docking then backsliding. Happens very often. Obvious because it pulls hoops and lines apart.
5. Getting lost. If you're lost, and you sort of orbit the formation in the hopes that the sight of some more jumpsuits will jog your memory, you're also cutting everyone else off. Make sure you have more than one jumpsuit as a visual reference.
Some things that make people look good:
1. Starting off on a radial and coming straight in, without washing around.
2. Following the person you are going to be docking on, even if they're not docked yet.
3. Smooth docks that do not affect the part of the formation you docked on.
4. Staying in your slot instead of "chasing" the end of a line that's flailing around (right Kelli?)
There's an old saying that the most successful jumper on a big way is the one that never gets noticed, and there's a lot of truth to that. Making a smooth approach, staying on your radial, stopping in your slot, and driving forward can help make sure that _you're_ not the one they're pointing to on the video screen.
Agreed, I really learned alot by that thread. Especially what NOT TO DO to get noticed. I agree with the statement that you don't want to be the one that everyone is pointing to on the debrief. If no one comments on my dock, Im glad and feel successful.