Formation size 1960-1967

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When formations first flew.
.... fossil tracks we made in the mud of ancient skies. Can you primordial relics spare brain cells and share a clue? Here's what I think I know:

Formation Skydiving 57 years ago -- Linked exits were performed in France in 1953. In a ’53 edition of the French magazine, Paris Match, I read that three parachutists carried a 3-way out of a Dakota (DC3), making a ‘delayed-fall’, “forming a true star” above a Perris air show.

50 years ago -- Back in the early 1960s D2 Istel’s Parachutes Inc. of Orange Mass. and California’s Skylark at Lake Elsinore carried a flame of man-flight. But I’m thinking that Texas led in parachuting freefall arena. After all, wind riding ain’t much more to bull riding. 1960s Houston Texans had a 130 member parachute club that wedded Texas scale jumping and wild merrymaking with the big blue. Like the soap opera, As the Prop Turns that tide swept me up. HPC partied, jumped, drank, humped, married, divorced, and split the skies and the sheets. Inspiring characters like Doc Fitch, Iron Tooth, and the undertakers, initiate my impressionable 17-yr old mind to proximity flying.

Two-way formations Happened early. I did two-way formations in ’61 – ’62. Period parachutist, Dr. R. Economy, CA. reports much more saying HPC instructor Clyde Jacks was ‘the best of the era.’ In 1962, at the HPC DA at BeeLine airport, Clyde Jacks D42 linked up with me on a short delay for a zipper. Then in early 1962, on Tommy Foster’s 6th jump, Carlos Wallace D-152 passed a baton with Tommy on a 12 second delay. We free flew the exit from a Cessna 185. I went out last to watch from above. We proudly submitted the feat to the PCA’s Parachutist news letter for recognition and got notoriety instead. We were officially castigated in print for a “dangerous stunt.”

Also in ’62 – ’63 at the Galveston Skydivers, I’d do linked exits with Tommy off D114 Doc Anagnostis’ Cessna strut to wrestle down to opening. To air-grapple, we used leg-scissors, head-locks and the like. The ‘winner’ was he who was on top of the pile at break off.

Baton pass -- Anything was our baton. We used sticks, Coke bottles, or whatever to pass back-and-forth. However, lugging junk upstairs quickly got old so we logged physical aerial encounters as a “Contact” jump. The word “RW” or relative work didn’t appear until ’64 when the word “star” came into log book vocabulary. Envisioning myself as a hawk swooping prey, I’d use a mate’s burble as an elevator to glom a backpack. Swoop; Chomp.

Three way formations were made over the Dallas Cedar Hill Club in 1963 where Tee Taylor and two guys linked up, made a line with arms interlocked at the elbows, then did front loops. By 1964 three-man stars were commonplace.

Four way Formations Four-man Stars were commonplace in Houston at Wallace's DZ in Crosby Texas in 1967. I made them with DZ regulars Don Deveny C1758, Gary Lewis B-5561, Hop C3686, Hawkeye, Weird Bob, and Ed Burran.

Multi-Plane attempts -- On July 4th, 1967 I logged, “3-planes, 9 jumpers, WOW! 4-man star, 6-man contact” at the Texas Parachute Council Meet in Georgetown, Texas.

Five way Formations In the USA, 5-ways started in Texas in ‘67. In France, they’d done them 2-years earlier. With CG Wallace’s Outlaws we were making 5-ways in 1967 out of his Cessna 196 (195). My first 5-* was in September on my 248th jump. In Arvin DZ, Wallace Outlaw Nels Lindbloom was in California’s 1st five-way (196?).

I’m curious. (and not just weird). Most/many aircraft of the day made a formation larger than 4 unlikely from a single aircraft (195, 196, 206, and Howard carried 5). Anybody know when + where you participated in your first 5-way? When did you hear tell of a 5-way in your skies?
Pat Works nee Madden Travis Works, Jr .B1575, C1798, D1813, Star Crest Solo#1, USPA#189,

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Hi Pat,I made my 1st baton pass from 7000' in Ft.lauderdale,Fl.with Dick Shuford D-100 on my 62nd jump 8/16/1959.On 8/23/1959 I made a double baton pass from 7000' with Dick Shuford and Bill Elfers D-28.After that baton passes were routine ! 3,4,and 5 way stars were common in So.Florida from 1966 and the california guys made their 8 way which forced me to buy a bigger airplane !!! POP D-47

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Kewl! Thanks, that helps fill-out the picture.... '66 for Florida. Florida was / is a big fountain of skydiving wonders.
On our honeymoon, Jan and I jumped at your DZ when we got married... about 40 years ago... Jan had her 1st malfunction. ... tye-dyed 28' flat canopy.

Paul, Thank you. Muchly:)

Pat Works nee Madden Travis Works, Jr .B1575, C1798, D1813, Star Crest Solo#1, USPA#189,

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"Multi-Plane attempts -- On July 4th, 1967 I logged, “3-planes, 9 jumpers, WOW! 4-man star, 6-man contact” at the Texas Parachute Council Meet in Georgetown, Texas."

Holy shit, i was there at that meet! Wasn't a jumper then but was stationed at Bergstrom AFB in Austin and some buddies and I went out there to watch skydiving.
The older I get the less I care who I piss off.

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Skratch Garrison offers this from a 1956 NPJR Newsletter, written by Joe Crane:


While in Europe, we learned of a very novel jump made by a group
of Frenchmen. Nine men hired a flying boxcar and holding to each
other's harness, jumped from the boxcar at one time. Their names
are Young, Braten, Ladouet, Perissinotto, Pupin, Michaut, Cros,
Leclaud and Billard. Young is the same Ray Young mentioned previously in this newsletter.

Their plans were to fall 12 seconds, but they were forced to
separate after falling 10 seconds not being able to hold on to
each other any longer. When they separated, they went in all
directions, all opened their chutes and landed safely.

While in Paris before returning to the states, Lyle Hoffman and I
were strolling down the Champs-Elysees and we met Ray Young. Ray
discussed this jump with us and I am agreeable that it is quite an
experience. I am also happy to know that everyone on this jump
came out alright but I do believe considerable chances are being
taken on such jumps and am sure that CAA would frown on jumps of
this nature as there is absolutely nothing to be gained materially
by such a stunt. I hope Ray and his friends will let well enough
alone and not attempt this type of jump in the future.


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