Skip to Content

safety : Exit : Launching 2, 3 and 4-Way Stars for Recreational RW

Launching 2, 3 and 4-Way Stars for Recreational RW

Funneled exits are bound to happen once in a while on recreational RW loads, but they do not have to be the norm. With the leadership of a good load organizer and thorough dirt dives, jumpers with relatively little experience can soon be pulling off stable exits.

In recreational RW, the most common type of exit is a Star (or “round” as it often called). In a Star exit, it is easier to control the exit chunk and maintain levels because all jumpers are looking into the center. The number of jumpers in the Star exit depends on factors such as jumper experience and the complexity of the skydive. For recreational loads with mixed experience levels, a 2, 3 or 4-way Star is probably large enough. Any bigger and the chance of a funnel increases.

This article focuses on Star exits from left side-door aircraft such as Otters, Cessna Caravans and PAC750s because they are commonly used for formations larger than a 4-way. Also, because many recreational skydivers don’t do a lot of 4-way, terms such as Middle Floater and Rear Floater are used instead of 4-way terminology such as Outside Center and Tail.

Deciding Who Will Be In The Base

The simple solution is to put only experienced jumpers in the base, but that often doesn’t leave enough experienced jumpers further back in the lineup. An alternate solution is to put experienced jumpers outside the plane and lesser-experienced jumpers inside. This mix of experience levels can work quite well if everybody leaves on ‘GO’ and presents to the relative wind. Then, if the exit is less than perfect, the experienced jumpers are in a better position to control the exit chunk. For example, if one of the inside jumpers starts to flip over, it is sometimes possible for one of the outside jumpers to push against his back pack and help him settle back down into his slot.

The Importance Of Dirt Diving The Exit

The exit is just as important as remembering the points of the skydive. If the base is not there, no points will be turned anyway. So during the dirt dive, jumpers should pack it up and take grips exactly the way they expect to do it on jump run. This can prevent a lot of fumbling around for grips when they are lining up for real. If a mockup of the aircraft door is available, jumpers should use it. If not, they can make marks on the ground to represent the door.

Typically, the organizer is positioned in the middle of the door and facing in so that he can see when everybody is in position before giving the count. Since full face helmets make it very difficult to hear the count, many organizers move their head or leg in time with the count. Some organizers swing their left leg out-in-out to indicate the Ready-Set-Go. (The second swing out represents the ‘Go’).

Launching A 2-Way Star

This exit uses a Middle Floater and 1 jumper inside the plane. As mentioned earlier, the most experienced jumper should be outside the plane because he is in a better position to control the inside jumper as the 2-way leaves the plane.

Getting Into position

1. With both hands holding onto the bar (or the top inside of the door if there is no bar), the Middle Floater rotates his body to the left so that his back pack goes out the middle of the door (so he doesn’t snag anything). His head follows until he is standing outside the plane with his right foot on the edge of the door and his left knee presented to the prop blast. His hands should be approximately shoulder-width apart.

2 Way Star Launch

2. As soon as the Middle Floater turns around in the door, the Inside Jumper reaches between the Middle Floater’s arms then right and left for his arm grippers. This leaves both the Middle Floater’s arms free to fly and control the exit.

3. As he takes grips, the Inside Jumper steps forward with his left foot, placing it on the edge of the door and crouching down (not on his knees) while keeping his chest cheated toward the prop blast and his back straight up and down. His right foot should naturally be a foot or two back inside the plane (helps ensure his body is cheated toward the prop blast).

2 Way Star Launch

The Launch

  • When the Inside Jumper is ready, he looks up at the Middle Floater.
  • The Middle Floater gives the count and launches out, leading with his left knee and presenting his chest and hips to the prop blast. With his free hands he can help control the Inside Jumper if he starts to twist or turn off heading. He can also double grip the Inside Jumper for added stability.
  • The Inside Jumper DOES NOT push but goes with the exit, keeping his head up and rotating his chest and hips toward the prop blast as he helps fly the 2-way on the relative wind.
  • Both jumpers are responsible for keeping the 2-way on heading relative to the aircraft’s line of flight so that other jumpers on the skydive can go directly to their slots for a faster build. The 2-way is also responsible for maintaining a good fall rate.

Launching A 3-Way Star

This exit uses 2 floaters (a Rear and a Middle) and 1 jumper inside the plane. Again, the most experienced jumpers should be outside the plane.

Getting Into Psition

1. The Rear Floater climbs out first (see the photo of the Middle Floater climbing out for the 2-way).

2. On the heels of the Rear Floater, the Middle Floater climbs out the same way, except he rotates his body to the right and stands pretty much in the middle of the door.

2 Way Star Launch

3. As the Middle Floater climbs out, the Rear Floater grips the Middle Floater’s right arm gripper with his left hand.

4. Both floaters are now standing outside the door and should be turned slightly toward the front of the aircraft with the inside of their left knees presented to the prop blast.

2 Way Star Launch

5. The Inside Jumper gets in position the same way as described for the 2-way Star except he takes a left-hand grip on the Rear Floater’s right arm gripper and a right-hand grip on the Middle Floater’s left arm gripper. (Again, he steps toward the door with his left foot and places it near the edge of the door to ensure he is cheated toward the prop blast.)

2 Way Star Launch

Launch

  • When the Inside Jumper is ready, he looks up at the Middle Floater.
  • The Middle Floater gives the count and launches out, leading with his left knee and presenting his chest and hips to the prop blast.
  • The Rear Floater should anticipate the count and leave a split second early, hardly noticeable but just enough to place him on the lower end of the 3-way and looking up at it. (In 4-way, the Rear Floater, called the ‘Tail’, is always on the lower end of the formation to help anchor it on the relative wind.)
  • The Inside Jumper DOES NOT push. He simply steps off, keeping his head up and rotating his chest and hips toward the prop blast as he helps fly the 3-way on the relative wind.
  • All jumpers are responsible for keeping the 3-way on heading relative to the aircraft’s line of flight so that other jumpers on the skydive can go directly to their slots for a faster build. The 3-way is also responsible for maintaining a good fall rate.

Launching A 4-Way Star

This exit uses 2 floaters (a Rear and a Middle) and 2 jumpers inside the plane. As with the 2 and 3-way Star exits, the most experienced jumpers should be outside the plane.

Getting Into Position

1. The Rear and Middle floaters climb out the same way as described for the 3-way Star exit. (Note: The Rear Floater should stand a few inches forward of the rear door jamb so that the Inside Rear jumper does not hit his arm on exit.)

2. While the two floaters are climbing out, the 2 inside jumpers (let’s call them Inside Rear and Inside Front to indicate their relative positions in the door) should step forward with their left foot and place it on the edge of the door, keeping their back pack backs straight up and down and their chests cheated toward the prop blast. They should crouch but not be on their knees. Their right foot should naturally be a foot or two back inside the plane.

3. The Inside Rear jumper takes a left-hand grip on the Rear Floater’s right arm gripper and a right-hand grip on the Inside Front jumper’s left arm gripper.

4. The Inside Front jumper takes a right-hand grip on the Middle Floater’s left arm gripper and can either leave his left hand free or reach back and double grip the Inside Rear jumper’s right arm.

2 Way Star Launch

The Launch

  • When the inside jumpers are ready, they look up at the Middle Floater.
  • The Middle Floater gives the count and launches out, leading with his left knee and presenting his chest and hips to the prop blast.
  • The Rear Floater should anticipate the count and leave a split second early (the same way as described for the 3-way exit).
  • The inside jumpers DO NOT push. They basically step off and go with the Middle Floater, keeping their heads up and rotating their chests and hips toward the prop blast. The Inside Front jumper should also think about launching toward the front of the plane, and the Rear Inside jumper should think about helping to place the Inside Front jumper up and forward.
  • No grip switching is necessary. If the 4-way is the base for a big-way, jumpers can take double grips for added stability.
  • All jumpers are responsible for keeping the 4-way on heading relative to the aircraft’s line of flight so that other jumpers on the skydive can go directly to their slots for a faster build. The 4-way is also responsible for maintaining a good fall rate.

Safety Tips

  • Before boarding the plane and before jump run, jumpers should give each other pin checks.
  • During the lineup and the exit, jumpers should always protect their handles.
  • Before planning to launch larger exit chunks, jumpers should know how many jumpers are allowed in the door and at the back of the aircraft (so that the aircraft’s stall point is not jeopardized). If they don’t know, they should ask the pilot!

As with other types of exits, methods for launching a Star can vary from one organizer to the next, from one 4-way team to the next, or even from one DZ to the next. The methods described in this article are ones that have worked successfully for this author on both 4-way and recreational loads. But no matter what method is used, success is much more likely if jumpers present as much as possible to the relative wind when lining up in the door and continue this through the launch.

Finally, bigger is not always better. Most skydivers would rather swoop on a solid 2-way than chase a funneled 6 or 8-way base. A solid base allows everybody on the load to turn more points and get the most bang for their buck.




By Ed Lightle on 2010-09-14 | Last Modified on 2013-08-26

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.  | Votes: 2 | Comments: 0 | Views: 10864

More articles in this category: