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Four Man Relative Work Reviewed
by John Jefferies
This article was originally published in Spotter Nov-Dec 1972.
Relative Work was just starting.
Since Connecticut Parachutes Incorporated (CPI) is becoming increasingly relative-work oriented and the nationals are making the event tougher than ever, it was thought that some pointers might be offered to the membership on some of the latest innovations in this aspect of the sport.
There were several articles on the subject recently published in Parachutist but in line with CPI's groundbreaking activities in other areas, this writer has elected to take up where Ottley and other and other such amateurs as Skratch Garrison and Jerry Bird leave off.
We will deal here with some of the latest formations for four-man teams and the best techniques for achieving them. Starting out with the easy ones:
The Polish Diamond
This is really quite simple (see sketch). The no 1 man hangs from the strut while no. 2, the base, poises as a student. No. 3 is half-may out the door while no. 4 is right behind.
The no. 2 man leaves first, backtracks for 2.36 seconds and stables out. No 1 and no. 3 leave 0.27 seconds after no. 2 and bracket him as shown in the diagram.
No. 4 leaves 0.73 seconds after nos. 1 and 3 (unless he hangs up his backpack on the door) and closes neatly on the inside feet of nos. 1 and 3.
Actually, the formation received its birth here in the Northeast last year at the regionals when the Pepperell team made a slight error in their regular diamond formation and told everyone on the ground that they had really been working on it for six months just that way. (Fast on his feet, that MacDonald.)
The Russian Star (tough)
This formation calls for two jumpers with exceptional peripheral vision. If you don't have any guys like this, check any Army-Navy surplus store for used periscopes with helmet attachments.
The no. 1 man hangs from the strut while nos. 2 and 3 stare the step facing aft. No. 4 is in the door.
Nos. 2 and 3 leave jointly and quickly form a skirmish line. On signal, they split and no. 2 makes a 90 left turn while no. 3 makes a 90 right turn. They must then each backtrack approximately 2 to 3 feet until their heels meet.
Meanwhile, no.1 has circled to the far side while no. 4 is moving in on the near side. It is of course a simple matter to grasp ankles tightly and open the star.
A word of warning here: If the base men are in the habit of wearing altimeters on their ankles, they should remove them for this maneuver since it may cause poor grips.
Note: there are numerous traction devices available in the event that your base men have fat ankles.
Skirmish Line into Backloop
This may be the easiest one in the batch. First the team merely forms a normal skirmish line, and then, on a prearranged signal (possibly a loud claxon horn operated by a friend on the ground), the outer men swing their outer arms vigorously down while everyone in the line simultaneously throws their knees into their chests.
Once this is mastered, you may wish to try three or four backloops in succession.
It has been suggested that this maneuver was originated after watching CPI's officers trying to explain the airport negotiations to the membership.
This formation is preceded by the simple 4-man caterpillar, wherein the four team members simply line up behind each other, each grasping the ankles of the one in front, but flying in a straight line.
Then the entire team simultaneously releases the left foot of the man in front, and twists their bodies to the right. This, of course, sends the team into a right spiral.
Much here depends upon the skill of the lead man. Number one must turn to the right ever harder and faster until he eventually catches up to the last man and grasps him by the right leg.
It is recommended that no more than 60 seconds ever be allotted for this maneuver, since there is a real danger that all four participants may turn into butter before it is completed.
Inside-Out Ferris Wheel (the Ultimate)
This is probably the most difficult of the now maneuvers since it involves a vertical formation which passes over itself (and possibly out). This is said in some circles to be impossible, but don't you believe it.
First, all four men leave the aircraft as rapidly as possible (don't stop to remove the ignition keys) and form a caterpillar as described above.
As will shortly be seen, it is important that you find a lead man that weighs as close to 300 lbs. or more if possible, since his momentum will be vital.
When the caterpillar is stable, the lead man must execute a powerful backloop passing up and over his trailmates and eventually grasping (behind his head) the ankles of the anchorman.
This formation will hold if it continues to spin fast enough, and will virtually roll down the sky. It is recommended that all participants have a history of back ailments so that nothing will be lost anyway.
Rumor has it that this formation was invented just after a relative work team attended the last USPA Board meeting.
The author will be pleased to answer any technical questions in the same spirit of professional expertise as shown above.
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