by Pat Works
Relative Work and its Components Defined
References: Skratch Garrison, Norman Kent, Tamara Koyn, Pete McKeeman, John Schuman, Tony Uragallo, Pat Works, BJ Worth
Relative Work (RW, Sequential Formation Skydiving) – From the French "travail relatif": adj. relative, relating; Fr. labeur (substantif): exercice; manœuvre n. a team sport practiced by freefall parachutists; the movement of the body in the air so that two or more relative workers may fly into various maneuvers; syn. The practice of precision group Skydiving; A.K.A. conventional skydiving or flat flying – An art practiced by skydivers since the 1950s, RW entails the intentional maneuvering of two or more freefall skydivers in relationship to each other. Levels and proximity are key to the meaning of “relative work.” The aim is to adjust levels and proximity to build formations and to fly slots.
In traditional RW formation skydives, participants fly to complete the group’s goal formation(s). The first RW competition (California,1967) was a 10-person round formation contest called “The Rumbleseat 10-Star Competition Meet.” USPA initiated Four-Way Formation Competition in 1970 -- Then, for 4-way the clock for points started after exit and after an initial 4-way star was completed. This was followed by a mandatory back-loop. Then the 4-way team started doing the assigned formations. Eight-way sequential formation skydiving: The ’75 short “Wings” records the early ‘Gulch’ Sequential of 1975 that led to the 2nd USFET in 1976 and immediately thereafter to the world-wide birth of Sequential Formation RW as a FAI CIP event (Ref. BJ Worth, “Tempting our Imaginations.)” In sequential formation RW competition (AKA Formation Skydiving), the goal is to make points—one point awarded for each completed formation. The team that can make the most points in the least amount of time wins; aesthetics are irrelevant. The flight paths of are planar, and generally 2-D, i.e. “flat-land.” The rules of competition are mature and well defined. RW formations are presented to a camera usually from above or below.
Freeflying or Vertical RW (vRW) – An emerging skydiving discipline with roots in both sit fly and freestyle (Mike Michagan & Deanna Kent 1985 “From Wings Came Flight”; Headdown: Olav Zipser, 1986) that focuses on the ability to control levels and proximity while flying vertical positions. Today, vertical RW embraces a variety of body positions to fly relative with others at any fall-rate. Freeflyers do their vertical relative work in a variety of modes including head-down, standing, sitting, back-flying, and belly-flying. Pretty, graceful body form is not the most important aspect in vertical RW; rather, as in all forms of RW, precise control of levels and proximity is the main objective. The intent is to be able to fly in any position relative to another skydiver within a space constrained only by time. Compared to “flat” or planar RW, vRW is spherical or three-dimensional. Larger formations resemble a swarm of bees more than a dinner plate. To illustrate, RW dives can be stamped out on a flat piece of paper, while vRW dives cannot. Video presentation is from the side or a 3-D spherical point-of-view.
Sit-flying – a.k.a. Chute Assis or Freak Brother Flying (1970s) – Now part of Freefly and vRW, sit-fly is the skydiving formation RW discipline that focuses on the ability to control levels and proximity while flying butt-to-earth positions. The primary root of today’s Freefly Sit-flying RW is three-dimensional. As in competitive RW, the goal of competitive sit-flying RW (USPA Nationals 1994) was to make points. However, unlike Relative Work, sit-flying skydivers may attempt to express physical artistry with freefall body movement, although aesthetic body form is a great deal less important than is good level and proximity control between team members. Video presentation is usually from the side. Draft rules for sit-fly competition have been published and were tested at Tony Uragallo’s 1994 First Exhibition Event of Sit-Flying. Today merged with freeflying and vRW, sit-flying is a basic Freefly skill.
Skydance – From Skratch, 1960s; Pat Works, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s; Deanna Kent & Mike Michigan 1985, Magic John, 1990s – A form of progressive skydiving that includes RW, chute assis, and vRW with freestyle poses. Freeflying becomes a dance in the sky when the flyers choreograph the levels, presentation, and proximity to present aesthetically pleasing visuals. More simply, any multi-person freefly skydive having both rhythm and choreography is a skydance. In a skydance, flying movements are an end in themselves. Skydance is a frame of mind where skydivers dance in the sky to entertain other skydivers. Beautiful and graceful body form is as important as level and proximity control. Vertical, spherical, and 3-D air moves are involved; beauty in motion is linked to rhythm so that the concepts of group aerial dance, video, and music merge. Skratch Garrison considered the ’75 “Wings” and early Gulch Sequential Formations to be skydance. Those led to the 2nd. USFET 1976 and birth of Sequential Formation RW. The only rule of progressive skydiving is that there are no rules. Video presentation is whatever works (i.e., any dancer can wear a camera.)
Normal face-to-earth -- Flat flying, RW stable or box. The spine is tangent to the horizon. The relative wind is on the chest. the variants include layouts, stags, and "T"
Sitting, butt-to-earth -- AKA chute assis or freak brother flying. Sitting orientation where the relative wind is on both the butt and soles. The spine may be either parallel or perpendicular to the horizon line. The variants include seats, teardrops, and inverted track.
Standing, feet-to-earth & - inverted, head-to-earth -- "Upright" the relative wind is on the soles. In “downright” orientation with the head uppermost the relative wind is on the head. The spine is perpendicular to the horizon line. The variants include the daffy, straddle, split, headstand, blind dive.