When engineering a dive, find as many different reasonable possibilities as you can. First, looking to find the most efficient way from one formation to another. Then, looking at different reasonable options, again only concerned with each individual transition. Next, look at ways to link these transitions into reasonable dives. It is important at this stage that you do not attempt to judge which dive is better, because it will tie up your mind and close your imagination.
After you have exhausted all possibilities, begin to compare and choose the best. Identify pros and cons of each possibility. Compare pros and cons, being sure to balance efficiency with comfort and familiarity.
Throughout the entire process, give each person a chance to speak his mind. Follow each person ideas, through to their logical conclusion. You must resist interrupting when you get an idea of your own.
Jump preparation can be done more efficiently and thorough if it is done with a well thought out plan. It is important things are learned completely and in the proper order.
The camera flyer, as an important part of the team, should be aware about which type of sequence the next jump will be, in order to be prepared for exit timing, team presentation on the exit, as well as the way the team progresses during the skydive. From this last aspect will depend the way the camera flyer will position himself relative to the team, regarding the air-to-air closeness from the team and the steepness (angle) to it.
The camera flyer should also be aware about any changes on the formation heading throughout the skydive, so he’ll be ready (if necessary) to adjust his relative positioning and place himself at the best air spot to get the best possible evidence of the team performance, regarding the judgeability of the footage.
This is the equivalent to say that the camera flyer has to ensure a footage with the adequate angle (steepness) and closeness to the skydive formations, allowing the judges to see all of the grips as clearly as possible.
What formations and who goes where. Worry just about to get the sequence right. The remaining details will be analysed on creepers. Go through the sequence until everybody feels comfortable with it.
Specific angles (3 times each transition between random formations, this is, between randoms, between a random and the first point of a block, between the second point of a block and a random or between the second point of a block and the first point of a block, whichever happens during a sequence; angles for blocks’ inter are not analysed at this phase), keys, flashes and technique reviews.
Hold each formation long enough to bring up a complete picture of the next formation before keying. You should really feel that pause (as a time reference and depending on the team feeling, use 3 up to 5 seconds on transitions holding). Repeat until all the details of the dive are second nature (usually 3 pages should be enough). This phase includes blocks creeping if there are any at the sequence.
Eyes Closed (Creepers)
A few times through (usually 3 pages), to ensure each person knows well what his move is and how it feels. This phase is for working the confidence building on your moves.
The key person should say “eyes closed” and then “go”. Do your move with eyes closed and stop. Then open your eyes, adjust your relative position in the formation (if necessary) and only then pick up your grips (if you have them), looking at the grips (to avoid the usually unsuccessful “blind reaching”). After pick up grips, look again at the key person for the next transition (or be ready to key it, if that’s your task) and be prepared to go.
Repeat this process for each transition. Where you find that creeping collisions might occur, keep your eyes open but do your move feeling your body without the input given by your vision.
At Speed (Creepers)
At least, 40 seconds (1 minute maximum) of uninterrupted creeping at speed. No talking. No stopping. Practicing the mental process we use in free fall.
Usually, the camera flyer measures 35” (4-Way) or 50” (8-Way) and counts the number of formations within that amount of time, providing the team with an approximate idea about how good (in points) the team performance is. This will permit a comparison after the jump, to conclude about any slowing or rushing on the team’s performance.
After creeping at speed, go to the mock-up to practice the door/ramp positioning for the exit, exactly as you’ll do in the aircraft.
From inside the mock-up, move to the door/ramp as if you were climbing out the aircraft’s door/ramp at the altitude jump-run, using the same order between team members, and positioning relative to the aircraft’s door/ramp exactly as it will be up there.
The picture you get at mock-up, should be the same picture as the one you’ll get when climbing out the aircraft for the exit.
The team should use a counting procedure for the exit, where everybody feels comfortable with it. Depending on the exit, the counting responsibility may switch from team member to team member, but the same counting procedure should always be used. This counting procedure varies from team to team. Any counting procedure is good since it works on ensuring the team synchronicity at the exit (for example, something like “Ready” – “Set” – “Go”).
After the exit, always transition to the next point. Repeat the exit at least once, but the team may repeat as many times as the team feels it’s required, at least until everybody is comfortable with the exit procedure for that specific jump (no problem on repeating, as it is “much cheaper” that the jump cost itself).
Just before boarding the aircraft and with rigs on, the team should practice the mock-up exit again (1 or 2 times).
It’s important that the team’s camera flyer practice the exit with his team, due to the different aspects related with each possible exit from the dive pool (positioning of team members before the exit, counting procedure, exit timing for the camera flyer, type of formation on the exit – round, long, etc. – as well as any changes on formations heading during the skydive, among other possible aspects).
Airspeed 4-Way Training Work Book
© 1998 – Jack Jefferies, Airspeed – All Rights Reserved
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- Diving and Tracking Safety on Large Formation Skydives - by Ed Lightle (Posted: 2015-08-03)
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- An Introduction to Piece Flying on Formation Skydives - by Ed Lightle (Posted: 2010-11-04)
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