Dear Roger, and Skratch and you,
Well yes. But of course. Um humm? I used to do it but quit when Joe fell off the left edge of a vertical 20-person double wedge canopy dock. Yessir, it was right after they 360deg.-ed and re-docked. The point man had just locked his legs in when Joe fell into Tom's inflated jumpsuit. The force of the vacuum opened his chest strap and he forgot to turn right. Everyone stalled into the collision and somebody panicked and started a riser dive that took out both left wings. Boy, you shoulda seen ol' Top Swooper try and flare with parts of the tail group suspended from his ankle!
Yes, before that we all jumped cotton canopies with no reserves. Using one or no altimeters on each jump helped keep the cliques down. Fortunately, all the gear belongs to the state now and nothing exciting has happened since Iron Tooth eliminated everyone on his 4-man team but himself... he woulda got the Honorable Medal for Late Timing, with cluster, but he had to split when they drove up to his parents place in a tank. He ran down the railroad tracks and didn't stop `til he got to Texas. Heroopa!
Love and maximum RW,
Canopy RW -Relative Work in Slow Motion.
"If only I could do it again, knowing what I know now!" Imagine how much easier it would be to go back through high school or a first jump course if no one knew you had already done it once. Now we have a chance to do just that. Learning canopy relative work is like learning freefall RW all over again, only in slow motion this time.
All of us who are involved in freefall RW went through some sort of time-consuming and expensive process that may or may not have involved any actual training, and from which we learned how to maneuver ourselves relative to each other in the air. Every new technique learned was a step away from apprehension and ignorance and toward understanding and enjoyment, expanding our awareness and whetting the appetite for more and better flying.
We have all finished a skydive, landed and said, "If there had only been a few more seconds, we could have completed that formation!" It is common now for canopy relative workers to do a clear and pull at 9500 feet, land and say, "If we had only had a few more minutes, we could have gotten it together!"
It is just like freefall RW. All the elements are there: dives, swoops, no-contact flying, non-momentum docks, vertical transitions, sequential formations ... and intensity.
Intensity - a way to maintain the peak function awareness of a skydive after the freefall. Now we can get several more minutes of adrenalin time for not a penny more.
It has not been that many years since people were apprehensive about relative work, and often for good reason. When it was not very well understood (or done) there were fears of collisions, funnels, exit injuries and canopy entanglements. Most of the fears based on ignorance have been replaced by respect born of knowledge. The knowledge has come from communication, reasoned experimentation, experience, eagerness to learn and willingness to share. We certainly have not "arrived" in freefall RW, but we aren't scared of it anymore.
Now the process is just beginning for canopy RW. Step one is to get over the ignorance and fear of it while at the same time not moving so quickly into it that disasters occur and the fears again become well-founded.
So where do you start? Optimally, find someone who has done a lot of it and pick his brains. Ask for his knowledge - tap his experience - share his time. Without that opportunity, there is a way, but it ought to be done cautiously. All you need is a friend, two square canopies and mutual curiosity. It will be a safer evolution if you both have enough dives on your canopies to be really comfortable with them.
Start by learning to maneuver your canopies close together (close enough to talk to each other) with no relative motion except for whatever difference there is in the rates of descent. At some point in the process of getting together, one canopy will become the target and the other the aggressor. Although that may simply be a matter of which one is higher, it will be more efficient if your positions are known ahead of time-like in freefall RW.
Although the CRW is easily "added to" the bottom end of a freefall RW dive, it is probably best learned when done as the only thing on a dive, clear of the interference by other non-participating canopies and with the chance to open at a much higher altitude, giving you more time to work slowly or to do several hook-ups, or alternate roles, prior to landing (sequential anyone?).
Unless you have made a successful hook-up and are in stable flight, it is unwise to be doing CRW below an altitude at which you could not breakaway successfully if problems develop. Like at least 1000 feet.
Do as much planning and discussion on the ground as you would for an involved sequential RW dive. As an exit for two people, you might consider a three-second interval between exits for lateral separation.
Find each other and make whatever turns are appropriate to get into the same general airspace. If the two canopies are level a turning front-riser descent is the most efficient way to get down. The target should stabilize with the aggressor off to one side, low, on the same heading and inside his radius of turn, then fly in a very slow turn toward the aggressor. It is called a "lead pursuit curve" and is a technique that pilots found out years ago is the most efficient way to rendezvous two airplanes, friendly or otherwise.
It has to do with the geometry of equal radius circles with offset centers, and allows the two canopies to rendezvous at equal speeds and rates of descent - something you can't do on a constant heading unless you are side-by-side to start with.
Once you have made several CRW dives together the need for verbal communication will diminish and you will begin to sense what needs to be done to effect the building of the formation. The need for small corrections will be obvious and the canopies will flow together with both of you moving to the same rhythm ... like in freefall.
Getting there is the most important thing to learn. Just fly no-contact side-by-side. Make some very slow formation turns. Practice staying in position. You'll find that moving your toggles up or down briskly will cause your canopy to move vertically long before it changes speed (moves forward or backward with respect to the other canopy). A "pump" stall will move you down very nicely a few feet.
Once you are used to having a sky full of nylon right next to you and feel comfortable flying into position and staying there, it's time to start working on docking the canopies. A hook-up is most easily manageable when the person on top is standing up with his feet tucked into the center cell (either channel) of the lower canopy so he can steer normally. If you are merely standing on top of the canopy, the formation has no structural integrity and if you drift back there is a danger of getting a foot tangled in the pilot chute bridle with potentially disastrous results.
A canopy in steady-state flight is in a condition of equilibrium so its velocity or relative position can be changed in any direction with a small force. However, large enough forces can exceed the ability of the canopy to accelerate and will cause it to distort or change its shape. Changing shape is the mechanism by which a square canopy changes its flight characteristics and is something to avoid if you want the two canopies to continue flying in unison. If you are the person on top, you should feel only very slight pressure on your feet. They may actually slide slowly up and down along the inside of the channel with no pressure at all on the upper or lower surfaces.
There is only one area on a canopy that can be gripped by the man on top with any hope of transitioning to a hook-up. That area is the top leading edge of the upper surface.
WARNING: Taking a grip on the tail, stabilizers, suspension lines or pilot chute bridle can result in anything from the inability to move elsewhere to sudden, spinning, whirling mess and impending disaster.
"Anyone who has had a bull by the tail knows five or six things more than someone who hasn't. "-Mark Twain.
If in the process of docking, one or more cells of the bottom canopy collapse, you can simply shift over to it, lift the upper surface of the cell and re-inf late it. If it is only one cell, just ignore it, unless your friend is uneasy. It won't affect the handling of his canopy at all.
WARNING: Never approach or exceed the stall point with docked canopies. Both canopies will probably stall simultaneously with easily imaginable results.
You can maneuver the canopies to a point landing just as you do with one if you keep in mind that you have to allow about fifteen extra feet below you for your friend, which he won't be if you drag him across a fence or into a van. We land stacked canopies in the peas regularly and have gotten a dead center when the guy on the bottom was not even steering. With a moderate wind, two jumpers could probably get the same disc from a hooked-up approach and landing.
Because of the difficulty in judging the flare point for the guy on the bottom, look down and watch his hands or have him yell out "Flare!" When he yells or starts the flare, kick out and get off. If you stay hooked-up and continue to fly to your flare point, you will drive him helplessly into the ground. If you flare early to let him land smoothly, you will wind up fifteen feet in the air all out of airspeed and ideas. Done properly, you can make gentle dual stand-ups even on no-wind days because of the additional speed that can be bled off in the flare. It works well to stay at full drive until the flare is initiated, but it isn't necessary.
When two or more canopies are docked, the formation has a somewhat faster (maybe 10% more) forward speed and rate of descent. The reason is that the relative wind due to the normal forward speed acts on a vertical moment arm that is twice as long. In steady-state flight, you are always tilted forward slightly (like your canopy is towing you) although you probably don't even notice it. With a hook-up, you are tilted forward even more because the wind drag on the lower person is acting on a point twice as far away from your canopy (like a longer lever). Because of the extra tilt, your canopy is in essence trimmed more nose down and therefore flies a little faster.
Which brings us to another important point. There are two types of square drivers: those who have had their canopies collapse in flight ... and those who will. It usually happens downwind of a large obstruction or at the edge of a thermal. The "book" says to stay away from full drive or near-stall toggle settings in strong gusty winds. If the canopy is subject to dynamic collapse at full drive in a gust, it will be more susceptible if it is flying even faster.
WARNING: Don't do CRW in strong gusty winds. You can overstress the lower canopy when the oscillations get out of phase and you are subject to having two people and two collapsed canopies trying to occupy the same airspace.
A stack of several flies like a stack of two. You just have to allow more distance beneath you when you set up the landing approach. It is like flaring a 747 when you are used to a Cessna. People are disengaged off the bottom one at a time and land straight ahead.
So where are we going with this stuff? What is the goal? I sincerely hope we can't answer those questions. If we set a limit, we'll reach it, and that isn't worth much. It is what we do along the way that will make it worthwhile. You have accomplished little if in reaching the top of a mountain you miss the intensity of a climb taken step by step ... the expanded awareness that comes from total mental and emotional involvement ... and the adrenalin rush that comes from doing something requiring ability of which you were not certain.
CRW has vastly unimagined, much less unrealized, potential for all these things. And we have only just begun. Think about freefall RW. This is the same thing ... in slow motion. The rendezvous in "2001..." was done to a Strauss waltz and it made all the difference.
Roqer Hull, Parachutist. May 1977
Canopy RW - West Coast Style. It's now generally well established that canopy RW started on the East coast, either at Deland or Z-Hills sometime back in 1975. During the next two years after its beginnings, however, it was performed by only a handful of zealots who practiced either vertical hookups, generally by closing beside the other canopy and sliding across to the center cell, or side docks in which the two canopies would fly side by side, held by the top pilot.
The next step in the progress of canopy RW, naturally, was the making of the world's first three-stack. Informed sources report that in the spring of 1977, a three-stack was formed over Stormville, NY by Dave Strickland, Mark Baird and Gary Pond. It is difficult to verify whether it was prior to a couple of West Coast three-stacks which were formed over Pope Valley, Calif. by Roger Hull, Marty Martin and Ken Beaudin. On June 15, 1977 the Know-Sense team put together their first three-stack. The stack was completed by Steve Haley, Paul Rober and Norton Thomas.
The importance of the three-stack performed by the Know-Sense people was not whether or not it was "the first," but the fact that it incorporated an entirely new concept in canopy RW- closing from below and behind.
Within the next four months, this concept was responsible for enabling the Know-Sense team to build their first four-stack, five-stack, several six-stacks and a seven-stack. As the stacks progressed, it became obvious that putting the first eight-stack together would simply be a matter of time. The basics for building it were now established through months of trial and error by Haley and Norton.
Haley was the official "stack pilot," always on top of the stack and directing the movement of the stack to pick up pursuers as month after month the size of the stacks grew larger. Norton, often at odds with concepts Haley would propose, offered the balance needed to progress to larger stacks. Invariably, Norton would hold out, directing others into position to close on the stack, then close last. Always being last, Norton had the "honor" and distinction of being the team bowling ball, often times being drilled into the ground as the stack was flown to the ground and landed without being in trim.
The importance of "trimming up" the stack became apparent as the size of the stacks progressed. One of the major obstacles to building larger stacks was the problem of oscillation. As a jumper approached the stack, attempting to line his center cell up on the bottom man's feet, the stack would start swaying. Concentrating on the feet, the approaching jumper would give a little left toggle or right toggle to compensate, only to find the stack swaying back in the opposite direction by the time his canopy responded.
Oftentimes the bottom man on the stack, seeing that the jumper on approach was slightly off target, would attempt to compensate by a toggle adjustment. This, too, would just serve to aggravate the problem.
The important point learned was for the jumper on approach to maintain his line of flight, slow down and wait for the stack to oscillate back to center. This called for split second timing, being in "the slot" just at the right second. If the oscillation was too violent, an approach could not be safely made without the distinct possiblity that the canopy on approach would collapse upon impact with the bottom jumper.
In order to prevent or stop an oscillation, unequal tension within the stack has to be eliminated. To do this, the stack pilot calls down to the jumper below to "come up" or "go down" as appropriate. "Coming up" is accomplished by going deeper into brakes, thus giving the canopy more lift and relieving the tension on the upper man's feet.
On the other hand the lower jumper's canopy may be "floating" too much, causing the top man to loose his foot grip. This is rectified by letting up on the toggles enough to create the additional drag needed to hold the proper amount of tension between the two canopies, The top man gives the "OK" when the tension is proper.
The sequence is then repeated sequentially on down the stack, with the No. 2 man giving instructions to No. 3 to trim up, No. 3 to No. 4, etc. The proper "trim position" is held by each jumper by locking his hands onto his harness or risers in whatever position his toggles are at the time he is advised this trim is proper.
Soft toggles make holding proper trim for extended periods of time a lot easier. Also, the use of riser trim tabs can even eliminate the need to hold toggles at all, once in the formation and locked into proper position.
Holding the stack in a definite slight turn is especially important so that those pursuing the stack can intersect its flight path in a minimum amount of distance. Another point to bear in mind is to not fly a stack in half brakes, especially if the top canopy is a Strato-Star. Clouds trying to close down the stack have problems because it is almost impossible to slow the Cloud's closing speed enough to avoid flying through and wrapping around the person on the bottom of the stack. Optimal flight mode for the stack pilot generally seems to be somewhere close to quarter-brakes.
In large stacks it is essential to utilize a large surface area canopy (Cloud, Foil, whatever) on the top (base) to insure stability.
Tom Courbat, CCR-9 Starcrest, Oct-Dec 1977.
Basic Canopy RW Techniques
Building Sequence. From top to bottom is smoothest, cleanest, quickest way (adding to bottom of stack).
Experienced pilots should be able to build speed-stack with simultaneous dockings top and bottom (will require some experience in closing both ways-top is risky).
Docking. Closing from below - top canopy in 1/4-1/2 brake mode - top canopy pilot may hold both toggles in one hand to free other hand for docking - soft toggles are great for this. Riser trim tabs may also be used but are not essential. Less than 1/4 brakes causes too much chase (horizontal time); more than 1/2 brakes causes excessive lift of top canopy.
Aggressor (bottom canopy) approaches in full-flight mode from behind and about 10-15 ft. below-must flare to dock-not too early or inadequate lift - not too late or top pilot will go thru (collapse) bottom canopy. Never approach from above and behind turbulent air flow at 45 degrees vertical angle to tail.
- (turbulent air flow.)
Additionally, pilot chutes sometimes hang out in that general vicinity. If approaching from above, side slip very slowly after establishing non-contact side mode. In an approach from above, it is extremely difficult to get the top canopy to drop the distance necessary to dock without gaining too much forward speed and getting ahead of lower canopy. Any time you are ahead of another canopy, turn off; do not under any circumstances attempt to "back-up" into the lower canopy. (Note: alert pilot on bottom canopy should be able to "flare up" to top canopy to effect proper dock if circumstances permit, i.e., not likely if lower canopy is the top of a 5-stack.)
Grips. Basic no-no's on grips - absolutely no grips on stabilizers, tail, pilot chute (or bridle) or lines - ONLY on top leading edge of upper surface. Once docked, use hands if necessary to grab center cells and plant feet securely. Wrap cell walls firmly and securely around entire foot. This is essential; loss of grip at 20 ft. if bottom canopy is collapsed could be fatal. If one grip is lost, resecure remaining foot hold, then work on regrip for lost foot. A completely collapsed canopy can be landed safely if the top canopy is flying properly.
End Cell Problems. Pilot on top can reinflate a totally or partially collapsed canopy by reaching down and pulling up on top of cells closest to him - then on each cell going out toward edge of canopy on both sides. DON'T PANIC!
Approach. If you are on final, go for it as long as there is no traffic jam. If you find yourself stuck in the slot for over 60 seconds on a large attempt, turn off and allow another canopy to close. You can make several efforts later and not jeopardize putting the stack together because everyone else had to wait for you. The bottom man on a stack can rotate his body (not canopy) 180 degrees and watch the next man's approach if visibility is a problem. He can "catch" the approaching canopy this way and then turn back on heading.
Docking/Grips. Once docked but prior to securing the grip, bottom man has responsibility to tell top man whether or not he is centered on bottom canopy. If not, bottom man uses simple, brief commands - "move right" - top man may sit on canopy and slide over a cell, or may be standing inside cell and with firm hand grips on tops of cell, pull feet out and reposition in proper cells. Keep communication to absolute minimum-only essential commands to avoid confusion.
Top Man. Top man completely controls the entire formation although he cannot of his own accord stop an oscillating stack. Top man must take responsibility for locating (with assistance of bottom man acting as lookout) canopies on approach and setting up easily accessible approach course for those coming in (up). Important not to be running away from your pursuers the whole jump ... very frustrating for those who are chasing! Fly heads up when on top.
Good general idea: initiate slow steady turn to left or right so that pursuers can intercept path as quickly as possible and get hooked up. Fly at about 1/4-1/2 brakes to maximize factors for those approaching. Don't keep altering your flight mode - people shouldn't have to second-guess you.
Tom Courbat, 930-77
Caution: Canopy RW Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
Here are some of the "rules" that have developed after many canopy RW jumps. Each one seemed to write itself in response to real or foreseen emergencies. It's an incomplete guide, because canopy RW is still mostly uncharted territory.
1. Clear all other canopy traffic before, during and after canopy RW. If you're flying a hookup, remember that the bottom man is controlled by the top man. The top man is responsible for the lower canopy, too.
2. Don't attempt canopy RW unless that parachutist knows you're there and works with you.
3. Be cautious in rough or bumpy air. Ram-air canopies react to gusts independently and can throw their suspended weights (you!) violently into one another.
4. Canopies doing RW should be flown at half-brakes. This allows you to go faster or slower to pursue your target or escape collision.
5. Don't attempt to hookup until there is no significant motion between person and parachute. Non-momentum docks are essential.
6. Never grasp another canopy with a steering toggle in your hand, but keep steering control with your other hand. It works this way: if you're hooking up to a canopy on your right, release that toggle and keep the left toggle. Then, in case of trouble, your right hand is uncluttered to fend off a collision - and you can still turn left, away from that collision with left toggle.
7. Pay attention to your feet. Be aware of other canopy's lines that may try to snare you. Consider that the military teaches a spread eagle position to prevent your body from passing between another canopy's lines.
8. Don't do canopy RW any lower than you'd like to cut away from. 1,000 feet is a nice break-off altitude: the place to stop trying to hookup. Once hooked up, two canopies are pretty stable and can go lower - but it's risky to initiate RW below a grand.
9. Remember, the guidelines we've developed for freefall RW are all applicable to canopy RW. The importance of grips, non-momentum docks, wake turbulence and rules of right-of-way apply equally to canopy RW. Think of them before you go up.
10. Canopy RW isn't difficult. It's the same as accuracy, but the disk is moving! This list of "don'ts" isn't intended to show how dangerous it is. They're here just to help us enjoy canopy RW without getting hurt.
Kevin Shea, Parachutist, March 1977
Canopy Contact Relative Work: Revolution or Evolution? The 1976 U.S. National Parachuting Championships revealed new equipment, incredible skill and, perhaps, even a look to the future of the sport. Accuracy was all tied up after ten rounds with monotonous dead centers; it went more than 20 rounds to break the eventual two man tie. Style was a blur of sixes, the fastest ever. 10-way speed stars are so fast that one must ask whether subterminal flying is really "relative work." 4-way sequential has developed into "group style." Now there is talk of movable targets for accuracy, of dropping style altogether, 4-way and 8-way accuracy stacks; there are many proposals.
After a number of impromptu demonstrations, the conversation turned to the possibility of a new team event to take place after opening: CCRW, or "Canopy Contact Relative Work." A basic explanation is simple: After opening, jumpers line up for contact formation flying by holding onto the outboard leading edge of the next canopy. Though very little in this area has been done, the record already is four. The possibilities are limitless and the addition of CCRW to parachuting events certainly warrants more thought.
New Competition Event. CCRW is an obvious addition to freefall team events as it allows teams to compete during the canopy descent part of the jump as well. Otherwise, this segment of parachuting is, more or less, wasted. It is projected that 4-way and 8-way teams will begin with speed "V"s, the basic hookup maneuver, for time. Watches would start on the appearance of the first pilot chute and stop as the last jumper makes contact. In a few years when times are fast and other countries begin to catch on, it will be time to change the event. Next we'll progress to sequential maneuvers, eliminating the speed hookup "problems." Starting from a basic "V" formation, all jumpers will make a 360 degree turn to dock in a second formation for time.
The reactions to CCRW were as varied as they were widespread. The Chute Shop immediately began offering tee shirts imprinted with: "Grab a square in the air if you've got the hair." POOPS (Parachutists Of/Over Phorty Society) is reportedly considering a special hard core event for their annual meet for the aged, a 1.1 cheapo version of CCRW. The USPA Competition Committee began drafting rules for the new event. Publication is expected for the 1980 season. Si Fraser promised to upstage the national organization once again by adding the event to the annual Z-Hills November team competition. U.S. Team Leader George Krieger sent a card from Team training in Bimini stating that Team Fund donations would have to pick up if the Team was expected to train for another event, too. John Sherman has been practicing a way to open hooked up. This involves reaching into the next jumper's pack before dumping. Tricky! Jim Stoyas has already filed a protest.
Another event promises even greater spectator appeal. If it can be merchandised as tennis was, the sport of parachuting may be on the threshold of great publicity and resulting expansion. It utilizes two teams with ram-air canopies and one jumper under a Piglet for a game of aerial soccer. The object is to fly past the Piglet canopy, kicking it to the opposing team's side of the drop zone. The "honor" of flying the Piglet usually goes to the lowest ranking license holder.
Basic 3-way "V" being docked on to
form a 5-way "W." Adding one more would
from a 6-way accordion, and so on.
New World Records. Parachuting record categories will have to be expanded again. Basically, all will consist of the greatest number of participants in a contact formation but there will be several altitude classifications: they'll be attempted from 1,000 meters, 2,000 meters, 4,000 meters, etc. Naturally, it is easier to make a four man formation from 4,000 meters than a 12-way formation from 1,000 meters. Photographic documentation (primarily X-ray) will be required. It is rumored that the staff in Orange, Massachusetts is busy packing lunches. The plan is to make a record attempt from a slow-climbing Norseman.
New Equipment. With the development of speed 10-way jumping over the last few years, the emphasis has been on the weight and volume of parachuting equipment; each manufacturer has been going smaller and lighter. CCRW, however, will require a completely new line of equipment as the competitive mission is completely different. Harnesses and containers won't be so important. It will be necessary to develop canopies of various sizes to equalize the descent rates of various size jumpers. Advance models will sport spoilers to allow a jumper to increase his descent rate smoothly and at-will in order to position himself at the proper docking altitude. New turning systems will have to be designed to free the hands for docking with adjacent canopies.
Top view of 16-way wagon wheel,
Laura MacKenzie, USPA Assistant Director, casually washed down another bon bon with a slug of Coors and declared: "I'm glad to hear there is a team event where an increase in weight is important." Then she dialed Jeanni McCombs who is rumored to be gathering an all-girl CCRW team. Letters poured in from Mary Thornton, Editor of the Spotter, Sherry Schrimsher, Editor of the SW Conference Newsletter, Betty Giarrusso, Editor of the Flyletter and others; all vowed their support.
The word from New Jersey is that Steve Snyder took a break from his drawing board to call both his banker and his broker with the good news. Dick Morgan scheduled classes. In Chicago, Lowell Bachman rushed to the printer with a new catalog.
One newsletter teased that some teams may be adding Velcro to their gloves and to the edges of their canopies. (One Florida team made the mistake of sewing hook Velcro to one glove and pile Velcro to the other. Not only did they have a problem with improper mating with the canopy, some have landed in an uncontrolled, palm to palm, praying position.) The FAA is considering some sort of standardization, perhaps under the TSO procedure.
And while on the FAA, it is feared by some that all this attention to the increased maneuverability of parachutes might prompt the FAA to require licensing and "N" numbers as they do with other aircraft. The writer contacted USPA Vice-President Stretch Harris, a San Diego attorney for an opinion. Harris suggested an office appointment and commented that "free legal advice is often worth exactly what you pay for it."
Some Southern California jumpers have come up with a less expensive descent equalizing system: each carries the required amount of compensating water ballast. If a jumper finds himself too low after opening, he simply jettisons some ballast by turning a valve. Fortunately, this is done over sparsely populated areas. On a recent jump, a visiting Canadian figured he'd knock off "two birds," being thirsty too, he drank the water!
Up in Massachusetts, Ted Strong reports that business is booming since he began installing Sure-Grips on Strato Stars. And, Hank Asciutto of Henry's Weight Reduction Salon in Perris, California, is designing a canopy with fewer lines - to reduce entanglements. Jim West ordered a dozen, in green (e). PI adopted a "wait and see" policy.
Of course, it's imperative that all canopies open on precisely the same level. This requires good equipment and close timing. In Florida, Bill Booth is developing the "Tangle Hog" with hand deployed, Velcroed pilot chutes. According to Booth, the team flies together to form a star, then they pull out their pilot chutes and stick them all together prior to release. He promises test reports as soon as he can find a team to jump the system.
Meanwhile, over at Para-Duplicators, they were waiting to see what the competition might produce. The design staff of Wing, Whang and Wong are said to be able to come up with great equipment faster than a speeding Xerox machine. In Dallas, McElfish announced a new imported prehensile boot while the RW Shop in New Hampshire is offering a new canopy made entirely of patchwork TSO tags. Apparently they got quite a deal on a closeout from Cesar Aguilar who was deported again. "It's all a mistake" wires the Hondurican from his native country.
8-way diamond. Particularly beautiful when the top three dock with the lower five. Good airspeed must be maintained to avoid wake turbulence.
Safety Considerations. One obvious question does arise: Safety-wise, is this a step forward or a step back? Of course, some new Basic Safety Regulations will be necessary and some have already been proposed to the USPA Safety and Training Committee.
*100.31: Canopy Contact Relative Work. (a) Shall not be engaged in by those holding less than a C license. (b) Breakoff Altitudes 1. With four participants or less: 200 feet AGL 2. With five participants or more: 300 feet AGL (c) Night formations will require regulation navigation lights and a red rotating beacon.
As with any new activity, there will be some growing pains. Parachuting officials will have to be wary in order to maintain an acceptable level of safety. It is imperative that they be able to react swiftly rather than have to go through a lengthy litigation process. Hereafter, minor infractions will be handled immediately by the Area Safety Officer, usually with a grounding. In major cases, the Executive Director is authorized to exchange the offender's "D" license for one with seven digits. Repeated infractions call for an unlisted number.
J. Scott Hamilton, Chairman of the Safety and Training Committee, appeared happy with the new activity, saying "This should eliminate the low pull problem now that everyone is opening high for the new event." He went on to note that if some CCRW maneuvers were to be included in future license requirements, Denver area jumpers might petition for an exemption as descent rates are much higher in the "Mile High City." Then he scheduled a meeting of the Committee to discuss another foreseeable problem: canopy to canopy transfers. A letter from the Gulch claims this was mastered over a year ago. It was, however, signed by only one of the participants.
In Deland, Gary Dupuis was heard to say: "Shucks, I don't care who gets into my DC-3 or where they get out as long as they buy a ticket." Major Chris Needels suggested some changes to the Army's Parachuting Regulations AR 95-19. Larry Sides began offering a special CCRW team insurance policy; it features million-dollar coverage and a two-jumper deductable.
Recognition, Organization, and Low Numbers. Don Beach, USPA Executive Director, said "While I like the idea of CCRW personally, the moving of the Headquarters to Washington has been a greater task than anticipated and the office staff just does not have the time to devote to any new projects." He kicked it back to the Competition Committee. Some investigation, however, revealed that most of his time has been spent in a running battle with USPA President Curt Curtis. It seems that both want their own portrait on the 1977 membership cards.
Australian Claude Gillard writes that the new formations will be particularly difficult to perform upside-down, but that the Aussies will give it a go. South Africa has already forwarded a bid for the First World Cup of CCRW.
Mike Truffer, new Editor of Parachutist magazine, was too busy to comment. He had just received 14 articles from Bill Ottley. Somehow Bill always suffers from "hyper-typewriter" in Board election years. Ron Young elected to wait for the movie. (And Dan Poynter immediately began writing a book on the subject. - Ed.)
Starcrutst Magazine announced that Willie Knewall was prepared to run the CCRW World Headquaters from his villa in Acapulco. He will issue numbers and maintain the registration file. Looking to the future, he proclaimed that anyone entering a wagon wheel formation eighth or later would qualify for a "CCS" award, a "canopy contact solo." It is reported that he has been trying to fly Strato-stars through hoops. Chet Poland began peddling belt buckles. Asked for an observation, Skratch Garrison commented "I think this is where I came in."
The "Bud Man," USPA Treasurer Jack Bergman, said: "I don't care what the events are as long as the Nationals get one buck off the top." And of course, Jacques Istel claims that he brought the event from France in 1953 and that "CCRW" is one of his trademarks.
Betty's husband, Dick Giarrusso, says: "CCRW is where it's at," while Betty is demanding special, separate certification for the judges working the new event. A recent edition of RW Underground said, in part: "...so in conclusion, we demand that the USPA Board add CCRW to the Nationals in 1977. This important segment of parachuting cannot be ignored any longer..." A completely illegible petition (except for the profanities) arrived at USPA Headquarters from Elsinore while Gene Paul Tacker kept dumping style loads at Raeford. Then the latest edition of T.N.T. arrived...
From Pope Valley, USPA President Curtis penned an editorial for Parachutist which went something like this: "My Fellow Parachutists, ask not what the USPA can do for you, ask what you can do for the USPA. The question of CCRW is not a we-vs-they controversy. After all, we all jump out of the same airplanes..." And it went on and on and on.
Dan Poynter, Parachutist, November 1976
"To be again where the angels play
In the endless halls of space,
To race again the whistling wind
With the sun hot in my face.
To top the golden tinted clouds
To see the distant rain,
To ride the rainbow's spectra band
To just be alive again.
To fly thru halls of towering clouds
Where the ancient Gods once Played,
To lose myself in the milk-white haze
To lose weeks or years or days.
To roll down from the shining sun
Toward the stagnant earth below,
On a high side pass from two miles up
And the bright round amber glow.
To ride again the calm still air
When the universe stands still,
To fight the jolting, bucking stack
That tests your every skill..."