UWF Chapter 6
Interview with Bill Newell & More...
Tradition ... Looking Back
Relative workers are important
in that they are all
bound together in a
which transcends their own
B.J. Worth. RWu. March 1973
UWF Chapter 6
Statement of Purpose
Freefall Relative Work
We are a band of brothers, native to the air where we are united in freefall relative work.
Our goal is to promote parachuting in general and relative work in particular. RW is a beautiful, exhilarating experience which we like to share with others.
In order to do RW, you must relate to others in the air. This relatedness has created a brotherhood of freefall. As brothers we can and should help each other. Because it's our sport, we must try to avoid ego-trips, unhealthy politics and hassles. We must promote those aspects of our sport which foster the brotherhood for all.
Good RW promotes itself. RW is where it is today, now. It was non-created. RW just happened and grew. Being non-created, RW is transcendent over acceptance or rejection. Unfettered, it does not ossify into ritual mechanistics and so continues to grow. If directed by a brotherhood of freefallers, this growth can strengthen us through unity in numbers. Look how many of us there are today. We are all just beginning.
Let's begin together.
Do lots of RW.
In Quest of Perfection ... The Traditions of Freefall Relative Work.
Our common welfare should come first. Personal satisfaction depends on RW unity; a Brotherhood of freefall.
There is no central RW authority. Our leaders are trusted servants of the sport; they do not govern.
Freefall relative work is democratic and unbiased. The only qualification for membership in the Brotherhood of Freefall is a desire to fly for the joy of flying.
Each group of Rwers has but one primary purpose - to carry the ecstasy and excitement of doing freefall relative work to all parachutists who have enthusiasm for flying.
Each RW team or drop zone should be autonomous, except in matters affecting relative work or parachuting as a whole.
The Brotherhood of Freefall is designed to place principles above personalities and the perfection of flight above all else.
The merit badges of the Brotherhood are the SCR/SCS awards. The NSCR, 16-man and XX are higher awards.
Our relationships with all other parachutists who have yet to join the Brotherhood are based on attraction rather than promotion. The positive results of RW enjoyment, warmth and fellowship emit good vibes which speak louder than any promotion we could possibly do.
RWu, June, 1974
"Six rings for the star-kings under the sky,
One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them"
The Fellowship of the Ring".
J. R. TOLKIEN
A Brief History of Ten-Man Star Competition
How It Started
10-man Star Competition started the very same way as many famous and infamous deeds throughout history: a drunken, boastful argument between two Gentlemen.
I can remember that argument vividly. (Hell, I started it).
It was on a Wednesday evening in 1967 at the Rumbleseat Tavern. Every Relative Work jumper in Los Angeles was there to view movies of the recently made 10-man stars.
Two different teams, the "Arvin Good Guys" and "The Group" from Elsinore shared the world's 10-man star record at that time.
Bob Allen, Arvin's photographer, and myself, a member of "The Group" were discussing the two teams ability to make the 10-man again. Bob said "The Group's" 10-man star was luck, but Arvin could do it again anytime.
I just couldn't let a statement like that go unchallenged. The discussion turned into a lengthy argument, which ended with a $5.00 wager between Bob and me.
It was decided that the two teams would jump, attempting a 10-man star to settle the bet. The next day I commenced drafting the first set of rules for the jump. This original draft was modified extensively by a rules committee consisting of Skratch Garrison, Carl Boenish and Jerry Bird.
In the meantime the "Old River Rats" decided they could also make 10-man stars and joined in the competition. This grudge match now started to look like an actual meet, hence a trophy was needed. I only had to make one stop to find a sponsor for this trophy - The Rumbleseat Tavern in Hermosa Beach. Frank Carpenter's Para-Scuba Club donated a 24-inch Perpetual Trophy to be awarded to the winning team each year. The first 10-Man Star Meet was held in November 1967 at Taft, California. Three teams entered, each making two jumps.
Arvin made the only 10-man of the meet - two perfect back-to-back 10-man stars. The rest of this story is recorded in the pages of Skydiver Magazine and USPA Parachutist Magazine.
Yes, I lost the $5.00, but I have seen a new dimension in parachuting gain International acceptance.
History of The Star Crest
An organization that has contributed a great deal to the growth of relative work around the world is the Bob Buquor Memorial Star Crest which awards for freefall relative work accomplishments. Bill Newell founded the Star Crest in 1967. The purpose was to award everybody who had been in an 8-man at that time (about 20 people), and from then on out, some kind of recognition for it. He named the Star Crest after Bob Buquor, a freefall photographer and one of the first promoters of star-making. Bob had been filming 3 and 4-mans at Arvin as far back as 1964. His photos helped to spark interest in building bigger stars. The first 8-man was built at Arvin on October 17, 1965 from a Howard and a Cessna 195. Unfortunately, Bob didn't live to see the first 10-man built in 1967. He drowned in 1966 while filming freefall footage for a Hollywood movie.
That first 8-man in 1965 was quite an accomplishment. It had taken about 13 months to go from 6-man to an 8-man. And it took another two years to build the 10-man. When that happened, two groups, Elsinore and Taft, did it within a month of each other.
The organization has grown into the many thousands, and USPA has since recognized the SCR and SCS awards as marks of achievement in relative work and a principal reason for its growth.
Certificate of Merit to Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Along with the RW Council's awards to individuals who have contributed to the growth of RW, a special Certificate of Merit was presented to Jonathan Livingston Seagull... "for outstanding service to relative work." A few weeks later brought a note from author Richard Bach: "Many thanks ... on behalf of Jonathan Seagull ... you know him well."
RWu, January, 1973
Recollections of Summer of `70... Southern California-style
Relative work and life in Southern California - the summer of Ted Webster's 10-man Sweepstakes Meet - some things are different, some things remain the same.
Gear was heavy. The standard relative work rig was a Para-Commander in a Pioneer 3-pin with a 26" Navy or Security conical (the only sport reserve available). We had three hogbacks on our team. It was generally felt at the time they were okay for big guys, but conventional was better for most people. I had the lightest rig on the DZ, a step-in with rocket jet fittings instead of capewells, 26' Navy, Pioneer 28' 1.6 main. It weighed about 27 lbs.
Jumpsuits had turned the corner. Although they didn't look that different except for color, it was hard for someone with a Pioneer jumpsuit to keep up with a bunch of people in Ward-Vene suits.
We had Beeches and could put almost any number up by flying formation with the Cessna or Howards.
Relative work, of course, was not near the size it is today. Max Kelly and I had the highest SCR numbers on our team; he's 235, I'm 183. The numbers were up to about 500 or so at that time. There had only been a handful of stars eight or bigger outside California.
Ted Webster's Sweepstakes ... it was the biggest RW meet ever... `course competition had only been going on since 1967. Initially, there had been no plans for a meet.
Ron Bluff, who ended up as "team leader" (a weird title for a weird job), Jerry Bird and Ted Webster (who was putting up the bucks) evolved a plan at the end of 1969 to demonstrate RW at the World Meet in Bled, Yugoslavia, the following September. A team was picked, half from Taft, half from Elsinore, as a representative group from Southern California.
However, the hideous long and agonizing howl that arose from those not lucky enough to be picked changed the best-laid plans of Bird and men. A competition was forced by the incessant demands for fair play, so instead of practicing all the things we'd daydreamt about - formations, etc. - we began practicing for 10-man speed stars. All the people who'd done the yelling were already far behind; while they scrambled teams together, we practiced.
Looking back through my logs, I find that what I remembered as a long and arduous training period was remarkably relaxed considering the stakes involved. The All-Stars only made thirty jumps in the two-and-a-half months before that 1970 meet. In contrast, "Terminal Chaos" made the same number of jumps in the two and a half weeks before the 1977 Nationals,
Also in looking back, I found that half the fun jumps we were making then were formations, mostly snowflakes, but we built the first Murphy -an eight-man with me in backwards - that summer, too. How did we get side-tracked to circles? The very competition we wanted did the trick, I believe.
Hal Hurley and Ron Bluff picked the Elsinore people: me, Max Kelly, Mike Milts, Ray Cottingham and Stan Troeller. Jerry Bird was Captain and he picked the Taft people: Donna Wardean, Sam Alexander, Dick Gernand, plus Bob Feuling from San Diego and Russ Benefiel from Elsinore. It was a compatible group; we meshed at once into a team. Personally, it was a weird situation. Our main competition was the Arvin Good Guys, and I lived at the beach in Malibu with two of them. The only other team with a chance was Dirty Ed's, and I was going with his ex-wife, a situation he considered intolerable. I had no trouble getting up for the meet. It was pretty funny at the beach. We were practicing at Elsinore, and the Arvin team at Taft. I'd usually get home first. I'd be slumped in the living room relaxing from the weekend when they'd come in. Ron Richards, the Arvin team captain, would be the first in the house -
"How'd you guys do?" I'd ask.
"Great! great - how `bout you guys?"
"Oh, OK. Tens in the thirties..."
"Well, shit! We're doin' that good!" He'd smirk and go off to his room.
Then Terry would come in, and I'd ask him.
"We're doing fine," he'd say. "We're working on some stuff, but it's looking good."
Then Debby, Terry's lady friend, would come in. While Terry fiddled around the kitchen opening wine, I'd ease up to Debby and quietly ask how they did.
"Terrible!" she'd say. "They funnelled two, and had someone low on one jump!"
It was all I could do to keep from cracking up.
We were confident - so much so that with the meet set for the 18th of July, Jerry gave us the 4th of July weekend off! (Can you imagine that happening today?)
While we were gone the psychological warfare escalated. Webster put out word that wives would also be allowed to go. A couple of the Arvin guys got married. None of us went that far, rightly figuring that Ted would let us take our old ladies.
Then Jerry Bird started the rumor that we had already gone down and gotten our passports. When Terry and Ron confronted me about that, I just smiled my best Sphinx grin and said nothing. Richards almost went into shock.
The morning of the meet JB handed out little orange buttons that said "Better `cause we want to be." He'd picked them up from Hertz or Avis or somebody, and we all wore them, ladies' auxiliary included, so they were everywhere. It was the kind of thing that made Ron Richards physically ill, which was exactly what Jerry wanted.
Ron did have something up his sleeve, however. There had been whispers and stuff about some Arvin secret weapon, and to Ron Richards goes the credit for changing the first part of RW forever. He had invented the floater.
Brian Williams in 1970 - a little bitty, good-looking dude, SCR number eight. (If you had totalled the SCR numbers of the Arvin team, it would have been under a hundred!) Brian had a big foam-filled jumpsuit and launched in front of the base/pin. He came in about eighth, if I remember right. It was startling to us, but not really scary as we got to watch them Friday. Their time was not as good as ours. (It did take a couple of years to work the kinks out of the idea.)
Our Friday practice jump was a low-30's eleven-man, a by now almost automatic performance, and we dispersed to get ready for the next morning. We were staying at a place up in the Sedcos that was secluded, had a pool and a fine view of Elsinore's DZ.
The morning of the meet - the floater tactic and Dirty Ed's team's week of practice made Hurley nervous, but he's the only one I recall feeling that way.
The rest of us were cocky. We were the first to jump, and had a 32. Bird said to turn it up a bit.
Dirty Ed's team overamped and took themselves out. On the way to a sub-30 they broke into a line and took about 45 seconds to close it. They had no chance after that, and bit themselves to death like sharks in a feeding frenzy fixing the blame (the second most important part of relative work).
Arvin had about a 37 or so, if I recall right. Still a chance, theoretically, but we got faster (averaging about 30 seconds) and they dropped eight to ten seconds a dive on us, so the meet was never in doubt. We just cruised along doing our thing and let the other guys break up chasing us. It's JB's favorite tactic and it has served him remarkably well over the years.
We got a blue ribbon - and jumpsuits, helmets, 20 practice jumps, kitbags, boots, jackets, patches, and a free trip, expenses paid, to Yugoslavia (with our girl friends).
The next jump we made after the meet was a team photo twelve snowflake, the second twelve-formation made (the first was also a snowflake-August 3, 1969!)
The weekend after that we jumped into team training for the style and accuracy people being held that year at Marana, Arizona, site of the `68 and `69 Nationals. We made a 10-man with smoke from fifteen-grand. I remember we were extremely dingy from hypoxia -Sam Alexander went base and it took us 15 seconds to get him to go. I rolled lazily through the prop blast jerking on my smoke lanyard -everyone was kind of drifting for the first 15 seconds or so. We thought it was sloppy but it was the first star most people on the ground had seen, so demo-wise the jump was a success.
We also took a load up in one of the Cessna 207's they were using for training and made a nice six of six. Mike Schultz was on the load, along with Clayton Schoepple (overall champ that year) and Gloria Porter (women's accuracy champ and a real fox). It was Gloria's first star bigger than a two-man, and she had almost a thousand jumps. That would be hard to imagine today.
The next weekend we broke the 20-man barrier, It was a barrier - we'd been working on it for six months. The first one was clean and smooth, breaking for altitude. We backed it up with a 21. In the pictures, half the jumpsuits are team red-white-blues.
A few more practice jumps and we departed for Europe as the first United States Freefall Exhibition Team.
Yugoslavia in September has weather rather resembling the Midwest - clear in the morning, clouds forming in the afternoon. Consequently we had constant cloud problems and made many low altitude (4000 ft.) four and six-man dives. The altitude meant that we just had to take it off the bottom, so me and Stan and Max took it to the streets. The people running the meet didn't hassle us, figuring we were professionals and did this for a living.
The best one was when the organizers approached JB and asked us to demonstrate the four-man-backloop formation then being proposed for RW competition. Jerry looked up at the clouds and picked me, Max, Stan and Dick Gernand. Dick's only problem was that he was jumping an old Irwin Deatha-Two-Paranoid, the forerunner of the Paradactyl. It was not the ideal low pull rig.
We got about six-grand, built the four-man quickly, then made a discovery that has haunted sequential since - namely, caterpillars are hard to build. We got it about 1500 ft. and Dick's eyes were bugged out six inches as he let his OSI'ed wing out about 1200. I was open about half that.
At the closing ceremonies we could only get eight-five. The clouds were broken, spotting would have been a snap, but the Russian pilots would not go above the deck (as a matter of fact, they did go above it but came down!) which really infuriated us. Stanley dumped his smoke in the door, then Mike and I, then Ron, and Donna, standing up right next to the pilots, popped hers, too. The airplane was emanating a solid red cloud of smoke and Russian expletives as we exited. We landed, got on the bus, and hauled ass.
It's funny looking back now - if you'd asked those people on that bus if they'd do it again, they'd have reassured you they were going to keep jumping. Five years later when the next USFET was formed, only me, Max and Ray were left from the original, and only five of the twelve were still jumping. At least, they're all still alive.
"Most men are content to stay at home
With their loved ones by their side,
And there was a time when I could sit
On the beach and watch the tide.
But I glimpsed the Gates of Heaven
One morning high in the sky,
And since that day happiness is -
To strap on a chute and fly.
...Tell me how in the name of God
I could ever stay earth bound,
Turning my back on the peace of mind
And happiness I've found?
So if it seems I have no thoughts
For my family or my friends,
Just keep in mind I've found my star
And I'll chase it till the end."
From Charlie Straightarrow
The History of Relative Work
The first parachute jump in history was on October 22, 1797 in Paris; the first freefall jump on April 28, 1919 at McCook Field, Ohio; the first world championships in August, 1951 in Bled; the first style program on a World Parachute Cup meet in August, 1958 inBratislava, Czechoslovakia.
The first relative jump in history happened when...? I don't know exactly. It is sure that on July 16, 1958, RW - in the form of a baton pass - made its U.S. debut, when Charlie Hillard and Steve Snyder accomplished the feat over Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
I can't say if there wasn't a previous hook-up or a baton pass in another country, especially an eastern one. It is certain that stars began in the early sixties, most of the RW pioneers jumping at the Arvin DZ at that time. Pretty soon Southern California star-builders were getting it together. In the fall of 1964 the first six-man star was made, filmed by Bob Buquor. "Wild Willie" Newell (now administrator of the SCR/SCS program) was in it. The first 8-man followed in October 1965 at Taft, California. It was formed by the "Arvin Good Guys" and filmed by Buquor.
Eight Became Ten
Although star-building and the SCR program (SCR = Star Crest Recipient, created in 1967 by Bill Newell) initially focused on 8-man formations, this gradually changed to ten people as a basic unit - for the simple reason that the almost-always available Beech D-18's carried ten people legally, with one or two more often able to squeeze in.
The first 10-man formation in skydiving history was achieved July 2, 1967 at Taft, north of Los Angeles, filmed by Luis Melendez and organized by Jerry Bird. The jumpers were Gary Young, John Rinard, Clark Fischer, Jim Dann, Jerry Bird, Bill Stage, Terry Ward, Bill Newell, Brian Williams and Paul Gorman (87 jumps!). Within three weeks another group, based south of Los Angeles at Elsinore, put together a second 10-man.
November 5, 1967 marked another significant day in the history of RW. The first USPA-sanctioned RW-competition was held at Taft. Garth Taggart wrote the rules, assisted by Jerry Bird, Skratch Garrison, Bob Allen (Taft cameraman) and Carl Boenish (Elsinore cameraman), This set of rules lasted until 1971 when they were only modified and finalized by Skratch Garrison. The Taft team won the competition with two 10-man stars in 45 and 50 seconds. Elsinore bombed the 4-man base on their second jump and ended with 12 points.
Late in 1969 and early in 1970, the focus for relative workers switched to Elsinore. There were lots of people, the right aircraft - and enough of them - and they had an enormous dry lake bed to compensate for bad spots. Here's where Carl Boenish filmed the first of the great RW movies, Sky Capers, and later began Masters of the Sky.
RW on a WPC
In 1968 USPA sanctioned a 10-man team (the Arvin Good Guys) to go to the IXth World Championships in Graz, Austria, and display large-star RW to the world. Because of organizational and financial problems the team was unable to attend.
But finally at the conclusion of the Xth World Meet in Bled, the world knew what the U.S. jumpers meant when saying Relative Work. It resulted from the energies of Southern Californian Ted Webster, who hosted the first and only "Webster Sweepstakes," offering as first prize a trip to Bled. Jerry Bird and his team won the competition and put on a demonstration at the WPC that was not to be surpassed until the XIth World Parachute Championships in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. "We talked RW, showed RW movies, especially Boenish's Masters of the Sky, which had never been shown publicly until then," said Jerry Bird. "We did stars and snowflakes. Jumpers from all over the world saw RW done for the first time."
Before that demonstration some big firsts had already been done. The first 12-man was built high over Taft by Jerry Bird's team early in 1968, the first 16-man in April 1969 and the first 18-man on December 7, 1969 by the Jerry Bird "All Stars" and the "Arvin Good Guys."
The first 8-girl star (it was exceptionally not organized by J.B.) was built at the end of July, 1969 at Elsinore. The girls taking part were: Jean Schultz (88), Laura MacKenzie (651), Ann Gardiner (440, now wife of Curt Curtis), Diane Bird (174, now Diane Kelly), Luena Garrison (279), Linda Padgett (525), Patty Croceito (395) and Sheila Scott (197, now wife of Ned Luker).
Some weeks before the WPC at Bled the "Golden Twenties" began, A 20-man star was formed over Elsinore in August, 1970, and held for seven seconds. A second jump was made with the same group and a momentary 21-man star was formed but held only 1.1 seconds.
The first 24-man was achieved in Perris Valley in January, 1972 and reproduced on many wall posters. At the end of the XIth WPC (accuracy and style) at Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in August 1972, this series was momentarily crowned by the 26-person star (25 men and one woman). Most of those big stars have been "Jerry Bird Productions."
When Jerry Bird participated in the 2nd RW-World Cup in Pretoria, South Africa, August 1974, he pushed the official FAI-record mark of a 10-man speed star from 16.7 seconds (achieved by Russian jumpers on March 15, 1974) down to a sensational 12.76 seconds. Captain Hook's Sky Pirates, the All Stars and other jumpers put together a 28-man FAI world record star in Ontario, California on August 25th. On July 14, 1975, 32 parachutists formed a star and held it longer than 5 seconds over Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
On November 30, 1974, at Casa Grande, Arizona, a 16-woman world record star was built.
The fastest 10-woman star was built in 34.2 seconds over Issaquah, Washington, on August 3, 1975.
In 1975, the largest star in Europe was achieved by 28 French jumpers at the Paris Air Show.
RW as part of national championships quite naturally started in the USA. It began in 1970 with the 4-man event; the 10-man event followed in 1972. Many RW competitions have been run since then, including the world's largest parachute meet ever held at Zephyrhills, Florida. The first annual 10-man star meet at Z-Hills was an ambitious undertaking over Thanksgiving Weekend in 1969. A total of five 10-man teams showed up; in 1974, 520 jumpers had registered to compete on 52 teams.
After the big RW show by the United States Freefall Exhibition Team in Bled, the rest of the world awoke in the early seventies though there had already been a few RW jumps done before. The Russians, for example, showed a film in Bled with some RW - a caterpillar.
In Australia and New Zealand RW started even earlier. The first international RW meet took place in January, 1972 at Masterton, New Zealand.
Seven teams from the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand participated.
The meet was won by the "Flying Farkle Family" (USA); their average time was 26.46 seconds for five jumps; their fastest star scored 23.2 seconds.
Australia, Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, South Africa and the USA sent teams to the first FAI-recognized World Cup in RW at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1973. The US teams won both events, France (2), Germany (3), Great Britain (4), Australia (5) and Canada (6) followed in the 10-man event. Germany (2), South Africa (3), France (4), Canada (5) and Australia (6) followed in the 4-man event. The average time of the 10-man winner, the "Columbine Turkey Farm" (USA), was 19.78 seconds; the fastest time was 17.3 seconds. The fastest time of the winning "Greene County" team in the 4-man event was 5.6 seconds, their average 6.33 seconds.
At Easter, 1974, the first European 10-man competition was organized through German-Austrian cooperation at Innsbruck (Austria). There were 10 teams from five countries. The "Icarius Group" of France won the meet, "Endrust Skydivers" (GB) placed second, the Scandinavian "Viking RW Team" third, and "Walter's Vögel" (Germany) fourth. "Icarius Group" averaged 27.9 seconds in three jumps.
The 2nd RW World Cup was hosted by South Africa in 1974. The winner out of 12 participating nations was once again Jerry Bird, this time with his "Wings of Orange" in an average time of 18.77 seconds. The world record of 12.76 seconds was set up before the competition started. France placed second, Germany third.
The 4-man event was won by the "Rainbow Flyers." They totalled 42.99 seconds in six jumps which means an average of 7.17 seconds:, their fastest formation was the diamond in 6.42 seconds. France and South Africa followed in places two and three.
The "Wings of Orange" won the second European 10-man competition, held at La Ferte Gaucher (France) some days after the World Cup. Five nations participated.
RW at the CIP. At the 1969 CIP meeting (International Parachuting Committee) "Proposals for new tests to be included in the programmes of future World Championships" was a point on the agenda and was discussed during the meeting. The US-delegate (Charles MacCrone) announced a new display with the method of marking. The word Relative Work was used the first time at the CIP. In 1971 the US-delegate (Norman Heaton; MacCrone was elected President in 1970) proposed to maintain in 1972 the same events as at Bled and to leave the discussion of the 1974 XIIth WPC programme for the next meeting. At the same meeting he announced a detailed proposal about a new category of (RW) records at the next meeting.
In November 1971 a CIP working group, consisting of Franz Lorber (Austria) as Chairman, Marc Schneebeli (CH), Ivan Lisov (USSR) and Uwe Beckmann (Germany) submitted a proposal for parachuting records, providing baton relay jumps and star-jumps as record categories. "We specially ask those countries which do have some experience with RW to complete the regulations concerning RW records," the group wrote in its proposal. There were no comments but at the meeting in February 1972, most of the delegates felt that the rules were incomplete. So the principle on RW records was adopted and a new working group-consisting of Eilif Ness (Norway), Rod Murphy (South Africa), Bert Wijnands (Netherlands), Norman Heaton (USA) and Gregor Ivascenko (Yugoslavia) - was charged with the task of studying the technical application of these records.
During the same meeting a proposal of the Dutch delegate Wijnands was adopted to include a RW event as a fourth event in the 1974 World Parachute Cup.
In 1973 the above-mentioned working group proposed the actually existing record rules, which were adopted. The originally adopted proposal to include a RW event as a fourth event to a "classic WPC" was modified in such a way that an extra WPC/RW consisting of two events (10-man event and 4-man event) would be organized between the "regular" WPC'S. All delegates were in favor, with two abstentions - USSR and CSSR.
The rules for these events - largely based on the existing US rules -were adopted at the same meeting. At this 1973 CIP meeting, Eilif Ness (Norway) was appointed permanent president of the international RW working group of the CIP. France, the USA and Israel offered to host a first World Cup in RW the same year. France was the successful bidder but withdrew its bid in April because of internal difficulties. The First World Cup was offered to and accepted by the USA.
One year later, 1974, there was only one bid to host the 2nd World Cup. It came from South Africa. There were no objections. But there were two bids to host the 1st World Parachuting Championships/RW, one from the USA and one from the Federal Republic of Germany. Germany won it. The rules were adopted in 1975.
Uwe Beckmann, Sportsprinter, 1975
About Your SCR & SCS - A History of the Star Crest
In relative work there are three merit badges recognized around the globe as proof of relative work proficiency. These are the Bob Buquor Memorial Star Crests - SCR, SCS and NSCR. They are awards of skill and merit, recognizing a parachutist as an accomplished relative worker, combining reliability, enthusiasm, skill and teamwork. According to a recent jumper survey, more skydivers have SCR's and SCS's than any other parachuting merit award.
Bill Newell initiated the BBMSC in 1967 as a memorial to the late Robert H. Buquor who played a major role in the origin of star formation RW. As Bill describes the goals of the BBMSC: "We are striving to keep the original ideals upon which we were founded alive for today's skydivers as well as for the pioneers of yesterday. That basically boils down to making lots of far-out skydives with dynamite people and having a groovy time ... It is to Bob's driving enthusiasm for relative work that the SCR membership is dedicated. We hope you will carry on his love and dedication to the art of flying by trying to help others enjoy the sport as much as you do."
The following is a condensation of a 1973 interview in which Bill describes the Star Crest's history and organization:
Q: What prompted the founding of the Star Crest?
Newell: Well, there were about 20 people at that time, before 1967, who had been in 8-mans, and that was all. It was a pretty difficult thing to do, so I figured that I'd like to have everybody who was in an 8-man at that time, and from then on out, receive some kind of award for it - some kind of recognition.
Q: And it began with the 8-man star built by the Arvin Good Guys?
Newell: Right, with the Arvin Good Guys. The very first 8-man was made on October 17th, 1965 in Arvin, California at about 3:00 in the afternoon. We used Walt Mercer's Howard and a Cessna 195 flown by Dave Keaggy. The entrance order in the star was the same as the exit order. Gary Young was base and Al Paradouski was pin. I came in third and Mitch Poteet was fourth; Bill Stage, fifth; Jim Dann, sixth; Don Henderson, seventh and Brian Williams was the eighth one in. We had it at about 5500 feet after exiting at 12,500.
Q: Did you guys think about making a larger star at that time?
Newell: As soon as we hit the ground we were hollering for a 10-man,
Q: Did you go for a 10-man?
Newell: Yeah - we tried. The closest we ever got was a 10-man for about 2 seconds. Bob Buquor came in last and it crumbled.
Q: It occurs to some that since most of the competition is done by 10-man star teams, you would base the Star Crest program on 10-mans rather than 8-mans.
Newell: I began the Star Crest before that kind of competition got started. Actually, the one thing that prompted 10-man star competition more than anything was the closeness in the making of the first two 10-mans between the Arvin Good Guys and the Elsinore group. We (the Arvin Good Guys) got our first 10-man July 2, 1967 and Elsinore got their first one on August 5th. So then it was like, "Well, who's the best?" In November that same year we had our first meet to see who could swing the most 10-mans. Time wasn't a big factor then; it was just getting 1 0-mails.
Q: Let's talk about Bob Buquor a little bit. What kind of a guy was he and what do you remember best about him?
Newell: Bob Buquor was filming 3 and 4-man stars in Arvin as far back as 1964. I met him in March of that year just after they'd gotten their first 4-man star. I forgot just who was on it; I'm pretty sure Mitch Poteet and Don Henderson were in on it. The best thing I remember about Bob was that he was one of the first guys at the drop zone to treat me nice. He'd go out of his way to come up to me and say, "Hi, how're you doing? How's the jumping going?" I had only about 50 jumps; it was still a bit hairy. I was at a strange drop zone and he was one of the first ones to make me feel at home. He had a zany, outgoing personality.
Q: Wasn't he one of the first paraphotographers in the sport?
Newell: One of the first three or four. I always considered Bob one of the best photographers, even when he wasn't filming stars. He was definitely a damn-good relative worker.
Q: What became of Buquor?
Newell: Bob Buquor filmed around Arvin most of the time. He was in on the Rod Pack jump, when Pack jumped without a parachute. Doyle Fields did the movies on that and Bob shot the stills for Life Magazine. He filmed a lot of movies and also was sent to Germany in 1964 by ABC to film the World Meet. He was about the best around at that time, I thought, especially for stills. Stills were his specialty.
He lived in Pacoima in a trailer house. I understand he came from Texas and that he was raised in California. He made his first jump in Elsinore in '58. Tony Lemus got him interested in it. Bob died in July 1966 off Malibu Beach. He had over 990 jumps. He drowned while filming for a movie called "Don't Make Waves" starring Tony Curtis, Claudette Cardinale, and Sharon Tate. I was working with him at the time, packing parachutes under Gary Mills. Jim Dann was the stunt man and we were all working for Leigh Hunt. Actually, he wasn't supposed to hit the water. He was supposed to hit the beach, but the spot was off. He went down with about 40 pounds of batteries and camera gear. He hit the water and went straight to the bottom, in 30 feet of water. He had his helmet in his hands.
Bob was a good cameraman but he had a hard time getting some of his pictures published in the parachuting magazines. He tried to get them to print our names and do a little spiel on what we were doing, but most of the time the subtitles would read, "A Star Over Arvin" by Bob Buquor, and things of that nature. So when he got killed I didn't think he'd been properly recognized for the good work that he'd done up to that time. It seemed logical to honor him with the Star Crest.
Q: What was he filming for, his own fun or for commercial reasons?
Newell: Just more or less for unusual photography he could send to the magazines, and to see if we could get something together in the air more than just plain grab ass or zapping each other. Bob Buquor was doing so much star filming it soon became his thing, his baby. Nobody was pushing star work that much at other drop zones. So actually Bob Buquor was the one who started star work, as far as I know, and there was nobody else besides us doing it at the time.
We just started adding more guys and got bigger and better stars over a period of time. But in those days it took a long time to add another man to a star. From the first four to the first five-man it took something like six weeks. From the first five to the first six it took about two or three months. And from six to eight it took about thirteen months. From eight to ten took two years.
Q: When was the next record that beat your October 1965 8-man?
Newell: That was a 9-man with Donna Wardean as the first girl in anything over a 7-man, June 11th, 1967 at Taft.
Q: How did you get the design for the patch? Was it your own design?
Newell: Yes. I just thought it up and drew it on a piece of paper. I used a shot glass for the center target, a coffee cup for the outer perimeter and an old wooden ruler. It was crude and I had my boss straighten it out for me. He drew it to a scale of four inches. The original idea came from an inspiration of seeing the movie "Blue Max" where the top "aces" received a far-out thing for being supergood. The idea of the design came easily for such a complicated-looking design. I just pictured the little smiling "minute man" they used to advertise in the 76 gas stations, stuck 8 of them holding hands in a circle with crosshairs in the center to make a distinctive-looking target.
Q: What did you do to have emblems made?
Newell: Well, first I took it to a bowling shirt outfit in Bakersfield and tried to have them do it. But it was a sewing machine job and it looked lousy. So I contacted the National Emblem Co. in Los Angeles and they told me that in order to have a patch made I'd have to put in a whole order. I couldn't have just one or two. So I had to buy an order of 80 patches even though there were only 20 people who qualified for them at the time. The thing was, I didn't have any money. So I wrote everybody a letter - all 20 of them - saying, "You're one of the first twenty persons in the world to have ever been in an 8-man star and I'm thinking about getting patches made and issuing numbers and I request that you donate $7.00 for four patches." I had to sell everybody four patches to have enough money for the order. And everybody went for it.
Q: Can you describe the awards you have in effect at this time and what one must do to obtain them?
Newell: Well, the Star Crest Recipient (SCR) was started in March 1967 for anyone hooked up in a flat, round, and stable star formation for a period of five sec., or 1000 feet. This was fine for awhile until it became apparent that jumpers were getting better and that wasn't where it was going to end. Then we started getting gripes from SCR holders who earned their Crest by doing a little more flying, that some toads with pals in the "in group" were just being thrown out and allowed to wallow on a big mattress of air while their friends came in and hooked up around them, thus GIVING them their 8-man. I didn't see it this way because it takes a certain amount of talent to wallow on a big mattress of air. And without our baseman on the first 8-man, we would have put our second man out to hook up with no one and still be grooving on 7-mans.
But I could see that the other cats had a good point, too, so to be fair to both parties I initiated the SCS Award (Star Crest Solo) to give the super flyers a chance to prove their worth over the less-talented RW type. This award was retroactive and was started the same day the SCR's reached 800, July 10, 1971. Thought we pleased everyone? Guess again. Then we received a barrage of bitches from jumpers who had met the SCS requirements (enter as 8th or later and hang on for 5 sec.) before we started the award and didn't want to re-do it for their SCS number. But on the whole it's been good for everyone and has worked out fine. It's even made lard asses lose weight and paper butts tuck up for their chunky pals. Hence, more real teamwork.
Q: And the Night Star Crest Recipient, how did that come about?
Newell: Ted Webster more or less got that going for the guys by phoning me after they made a 9-man at night at Elsinore October 2, 1971. It was the first star over a 6-man that was ever made at night and they did it at 9:00 p.m. Ted wanted to know if it was OK to get some patches made up with the Star Crest design on it for the jump. I told him that I thought it was so far out that they did it that we should just add Night Star to the existing SCR & SCS. We agreed and that's how the NSCR got started. I might add that in order to be eligible for the NSCR as we award it, the Star should be 2 hours after sunset or 2 hours before dawn.
Q: What about people from foreign countries - do they qualify the same as U.S. jumpers do?
Newell: It's the same for people all over the world. All you have to do to join the Star Crest is prove you've been in an 8-man star for 5 sec. I didn't plan it to go international. When I started getting applications from Australia, South Africa, Europe and other places, I didn't see any reason not to list them.
Q: Do you foresee a time when relative work meets will be limited to holders of SCR numbers?
Newell: I'd hate to see that because if a person doesn't want to send in for his patch he shouldn't have to. A person should do it because he wants to. If they say in the future that no one can jump in a meet unless he has an SCR, that's not too cool. They may request that he be SCR-qualified for safety reasons. At meets like Scrambles where it's all set up for that sort of thing, it's fine.
Q: How about the WSCR; what is your connection with this group?
Newell: No connection. I had been approached several times over the years to start a Women's SCR, but frankly I cannot see how it ties in with our format. It could even be misconstrued as discriminating against the boys. We're not concerned with what one's gender is. Our rules simply state that you have to be in an 8-man or better star for 5 seconds; and just function in the air as a good flying human being.
Q: What about giving out patches for large stars. Do you have any plans to do that?
Newell: We handle patches for 16, 24 and military 10-man stars, but we don't list them or give numbers for them. Jumpers have to send in proof of these stars to purchase the emblems and we do file away the applications in case there's any question. People like patches for getting into large stars, and jumpers make their own large-star patches to whatever fits their fancy.
The Star Crest program promotes itself. I think this is the way it should be handled. If we tried to commercialize the Star Crest, I think it would kill it. Our plans are for growth. We're trying to make ourselves stronger so we can operate more efficiently. We are a non-profit organization for the advancement of relative work skydiving. We're going to try to keep on doing what we've been doing and improve with time. As jumpers require more, we'll try to keep up with their needs and demands.
Star Crest magazine, October 1975 and January 1976
The USPA licenses (A thru D) and ratings (jumpmasters, I/E, etc.) are obviously required to establish, promote and maintain a degree of safety in parachuting in general, and filling out paperwork specifically.
Of course, these licenses have nothing to do with parachuting skill (just as having a driver's license doesn't insure that you are a good driver.)
In RW there are two merit badges recognized by all participants both here and abroad as proof of RW proficiency. These are the Bob Buquor Memorial Starcrests: the SCR and SCS.
An SCR Recipient has:
"Participated in a Free Fall Star Formation involving eight or more skydivers in a completed circle held together for a minimum time of 5 seconds or 1000 feet."
This one may have been "given" you. Even so, those who gave it had to be real RWers who wanted to relate with you. Either way, it's meaningful.
The SCS must be earned. "... By entering into this star formation as 8th or after..." The SCS proves a degree of skill at flying both early and late. This is important at a big star attempt, and SCR Scrambles, or when you are visiting another RW drop zone. This way, when the Starmaster or manifestor sizes up your skill by eyeball, he can temper the fact that you're 5'6", weigh 210 lbs. and are called "Bowling Ball" by your friends with the fact that you are an SCS recipient, and thus can fly.
There are currently a whole mess of offspring to the SCR: Night SCR, All-Girl SCR, Teen SCR, International SCR, All-College SCR, All-Military SCR, All-red-jumpsuit SCR, Naked SCR, Wednesday SCR, Smashed SCR, Who-Cares SCR, etc. These relate more to membership in non-RW groups (military, female, college) than to RW skill (with the exception of the Night SCR which does give you credit for conditions-dark `n scary.)
SCR and SCS are international in scope. You must be SCR to enter a Scrambles meet or tell lies at a new DZ. You must also be SCR or SCS to join the RW Council since they certify that you participate in RW with some success.
Having a USPA license (A, B, C, D,) shows you jump out of airplanes.
Having an SCR shows that you are a participant in the brotherhood of RW.
Having an SCS shows that you are a participant in the brotherhood of RW with perhaps a degree of skill (or luck).
Having an NSCR, 16-Man, 20-Man means you like to participate in group therapy in the air.
Having an ACE, All-Girl SCR, International SCR, etc. means you gathered enough weird people like yourself and that your group can do good RW despite what everybody's been sayin'.
RWu, January. 1973
A History of the RW Underground Newsletter
January 1972. Relative Work had been growing in popularity for some time as ever-increasing numbers of jumpers discovered that freefall together in the same air space was great fun. Largely ignored by the sport parachuting establishment, it had covered the United States and large parts of the world with freefalling friends.
Although relative work had evolved into a competitive sport - there had been 10-man star meets in California and in Zephyrhills, Fla. - it was unrecognized, unorganized and unheard of in national or international competition.
At a party we heard that the U.S.P.A. Board of Directors would soon meet in nearby Milwaukee. After polling key relative workers across the country by telephone, we and Dick Giarrusso and his wife Betty put together a plan. We would propose that U.S.P.A. recognize large-star relative work as a competitive event by adding it to the events at the 1972 National Parachuting Championships. (Four-man RW had been a rather unpopular team event at the Nationals for a couple of years.)
John Sherman was to plead our case at the B.O.D., many of whom knew very little about this popular form of skydiving called relative work. John was a known style and accuracy competitor as well as a hard-core relative worker. Importantly, he's a smooth talker. He made the proposal to the competition committee on Thursday.
On Saturday and Sunday many of our friends showed up to support us. We lobbied in the hallways, in the bar and in rooms. We did everything we could think of to generate enthusiasm for the idea. After some discussion of logistics and team eligibility, the motion to include speed stars, using the existing California Star Rules, in the 1972 Nationals was passed. The speed with which the Board passed the proposal was unprecedented. Never before had they reacted so quickly to a proposal of such magnitude coming from the membership.
Four a.m. and we had won! Sleep was blocked by the nagging thought: All the "big people in parachuting" had suddenly gained a new-found interest in relative work when the motion passed. Many had already dropped unsubtle hints that they would like to be the first Chief of RW in the U.S.A. A few began to campaign for the slot.
No! Freefall should always be governed by participants; not by some ground hog leader! How could we insure that freefall, and in particular this suddenly popular new form of competition, would remain the property of skydivers?
The answer seemed to be communication. Form an invisible Union of Freefallers who could provide their own leadership. Give the brotherhood a name. Have meetings. The idea was that if we banded together and all talked at once we would at least sound big. Big enough for changes in our sport to be presented to jumpers rather than to a small elitist group for approval.
Hastily a list of the names of 30 key relative workers and team captains from all over the United States was drawn up. This was the mailing list for the first issue of a newsletter which eventually became RWunderground. (In those days of underground counter-culture newspapers, the newsletter's name made a lot more sense than it does today.)
The list of 30 key star people was divided among the three of us (Giarrusso, Sherman, Works) and we contacted everyone by telephone to explain that RW would continue to be run by RW people if team captains would be responsible for maintaining communications with the national organization on behalf of members of their teams.
There was some fear among the people we contacted that U.S.P.A.'s involvement in relative work was not good, and indeed, they wondered if what we had done was really such a good thing. Yet, everyone was looking forward to the first "real" national competition under the auspices of the national organization.
Other elements of the "underground communication" battle plan included making sure that team captains fully understood the implications of U.S.P.A.'s action, and the responsibility of relative workers to respond in good faith by not showing up for the meet in illegal equipment or sporting cannabis patches (which was sure to incense the image-conscious heads of state, particularly since U.S.P.A. was hosting the World Championships at Tahlequah that year.)
Copies of the newsletter were also sent to U.S.P.A. and to members of the Competition Committee.
Our basic message in those first issues of RWunderground was: "you are a member of the loose-knit brotherhood of freefall relative workers known as The RW Council ... an informal league of star people who do their thing (not just mine or yours) for RW. Anyone who wants a say in RW should start (or get on) a team. There are no dues but you must remain active in RW. By virtue of being an RW Council member you are also an advisor on relative work to the U.S.P.A. Competition Committee. You should voice your opinion on RW matters. This newsletter will print anything you have to say concerning the betterment of RW."
And in our fourth issue (Fall 1972) we printed The Purpose of the RW Council:
"The Relative Work Council is a loosely knit group of active relative workers who are banding together to see that better things happen for RW more quickly. Some 42 relative workers at the Nationals, representing both 4-man and 10-man RW, agreed there was a need. The RW Council will act to supplement rather than supplant USPA. The Competition Committee recognizes the Council as an advisor to the Committee. All RW Council members must be active in RW and should be a member of a 4-man or a 10-man team. In addition, Council members must be SCR.
"This newsletter serves as the communications media for the Council and interested parties. Duties of all RW Council members are: 1) to voice their opinions concerning the improvement of RW competition to USPA, fellow jumpers and this newsletter, 2) actively promote RW, and 3) make lots of RW jumps. There will be no "Mr. Big" or nonjumping paperpushers. All RW people will have an equal say in controlling their sport. There are no numbers or merit badges except for the SCR and SCS.
"Good RW promotes itself. Large-star RW is where it is today now. It was noncreated. RW just happened and grew. Being noncreated, RW is transcendent over acceptance or rejection. Unfettered, it does not ossify into ritual mechanistics and so continues to grow. Since it is represented and led by participants rather than a groundhog "leader," it grows. If directed by a brotherhood of freefallers this growth can strengthen us through unity in numbers. Look how many of us there are today. We are all just beginning. Let's begin together. Do some RW on the ground so we can do lots of RW in the air. Sincere, active RW'ers should be encouraged to improve and maintain the good vibes of RW. Send us news; make lots of RW jumps."
RW Council meetings were held at the Nationals, at the Z-Hills meets, and at other major meets. Soon we had paying subscribers to help cover the cost of printing and mailing the newsletter which was published "irregularly." We even had subscribers in other countries.
"We're blown away at the number of us," we told our readers in the sixth issue, March 1973. "The good vibe, positive response to RWunderground has been overwhelming. We get a fantastic amount of input from our readers - articles, ideas, comments - we hardly have room to print it all. Actually, the 'WE' ain't. It's YOU and US. We simply communicate by having the resulting mess printed. It's work but we get lots of help and have fun doing it. Everyone who gets this newsletter helps in spirit and the printing is just a manifestation of that. We're trying to record what is going down in RW."
Every issue was hand-to-mouth for printing and postage costs. We did have advertising to help pay the bills, including some of the most unorthodox advertisements seen in any parachuting publication. Our art department was right out of Zap Comix - the newsletter's look was definitely "radical funk." Our friends were drafted to help assemble, staple, fold, stamp, address and sort for mailing every issue.
The rewards were terrific -it was great fun to get the mail every day to see what fantastic story or letter it brought from a jumper in another state or county.
We reported on team activities, competition rumors, large-star and speed-star records, meet results, equipment evolutions, competition rule changes and controversies of all sorts. We were right there in the middle of every heated discussion - "speed vs. sequential" for the future direction of RW competition, "soft vs. hard" for head-gear, TSO requirements for gear, even politics ... promoting a relative work slate for the 1974 U.S.P.A. elections.
We also initiated the Certificates of Merit to recognize the contributions of individuals to promotion of our sport, and the Combined RW Awards for national competition to encourage participation in more than one form of competitive relative work. The Combined Award has since been taken on by U.S.P.A. as an annual presentation at the National Championships.
The last issue of RWunderground was published in June 1976. As we explained to our readers in that issue, our 15th, we felt that we'd " paid our dues" and had accomplished what we had set out to do. "We started RWu to spread relative work ideas and news at a time when no other parachuting magazine was printing much RW material," we said. "In 1972 `serious' jumpers considered relative work to be only `fun-jumping.' When 10-man speed stars were accepted as an event at the National Parachuting Championships, we felt there was a need to bring relative workers across the country together, to let everybody know what was happening.
"Today, RW is still fun-jumping ... but it has captured the imagination of the world. We're proud to have been a part of this early growth. We get such a tremendous amount of fun out of jumping, we felt that the work we put into RWu for the last four years was just a token return for the fun the sport has given us."
Pat and Jan Works. 1978.
On Becoming A Skygod:
Once you've mastered all of the basic relative work maneuvers and have applied this mastery to 30 or 40 stars, you generally sprout a 7-foot wing span to match your inflated ego, will give autographs on request, and are very fast and never miss. When you reach this stage you should take on the name "Skygod" or something similar that goes well with your shiny, cast-iron ego.
Then, jump only with your friends, the other Skygods. Never let turkeys or toads on your loads - they may slow down your star or get in the way. If you do honor anyone with a star, pick a good-looking girl or a close personal friend (if you still have one), and let them go base. They'll then have the entire jump to watch YOUR entry and mastery of flying.
If somehow a novice relative worker finds himself on your load, be sure to make him feel at ease with soothing words like: "If you bomb the star, I'll zap your reserve." Or, "See if you can get close but DON'T TOUCH." Or, "If you make a mistake, don't bother to pull."
Obviously words like these don't do much to lessen a novice's anxiety or to teach him anything about what relative work is all about. So, be friendly and helpful to novices, not because you are basically a nice guy, but because you can help build a positive attitude in the sport that will help us grow... and build bigger and better stars. Or diamonds and wedges...
RWu, December 1974
RW Council's Certificate of Merit Awards
"In recognition of Outstanding Services rendered to Freefall Relative Work, this Certificate of Merit is awarded with the Gratitude and Appreciation of all Relative Workers to..."
In 1972, RWunderground issued the first Certificates of Merit. This special award was conceived of to recognize and express appreciation to individuals who actively promoted relative work so that it would grow internationally.
By RWunderground's last issue in 1976, 33 individuals had been singled out for the award. Nominations were submitted by relative workers themselves.
These people are recipients of the RW Council's Certificate of Merit:
Lowell Bachman (Para-Gear, Chicago); Chuck Embury (Parachutes, Inc., Orange Mass.); Joe Garcia (A-1 Unlimited, Calif.); John Higgins (The Chute Shop, Flemington, N.J.), all for their contributions of equipment and cash which permitted the national championship team that year, Jerry Bird's All-Stars, to attend the World Meet and turn the rest of the world on to large-star and sequential relative work.
Skratch Garrison, chief judge of the first national championships for 10-man competition and author of the first national rules governing 10-man; Bill Newell, founder of the Bob Buquor Memorial StarCrest, Ted Webster, organizer of some of the first major relative work competitions and an RW philanthropist, and Dan Poynter, then Northeast conference director and editor of The Spotter.
In addition, a special award was made to Jonathan Livingston Seagull and sent to author Richard Bach with a letter describing how Jonathan's thoughts on flying and excelling have inspired freefall relative workers.
Members of the Jerry Bird's "All-Stars" 10-man team which enthusiastically promoted relative work to competitors at the 1972 World Meet, with wide acclaim. For many, the All-Stars demo jumps, including 10-man star to line to two 5-mans, or a star to snowflake with the outer five tracking away, was their first glimpse at the new phenomenon called "large-star relative work." Team members included:
Jerry BirdChuck WickliffeRon Haun
Bill StageRich PiccirilliBob Westover
Tom PhillipsJim FogelmanSam Alexander
J.R. (Rod) Murphy, of South Africa, and Eilif Ness, of Norway, both members of the CIP relative work subcommittee of the FAI, and instrumental in
developing and organizing 4-man and 10-man competition on the international level
Bob McDermott, U.S. Army Parachute Team, chief judge of the 1973 U.S.A. National Championships, and one of the host officials at the World Cup of Relative Work in Fort Bragg, N.C.
James F. (Curt) Curtis, active competitor and long-time member of U.S.P.A.'s Board of Directors, who helped push relative work competition to prominence at the national and international level.
Jerry Bird, roving ambassador for relative work, the only individual to receive the award twice. As captain of three national champion teams ("All-Stars" - 1972, "Columbine Turkey Farm" - 1973, "Wings of Orange" - 1974) he has done much to influence the popularity of relative work wherever he goes. He has organized large-star loads, SCR loads, and training sessions for groups of relative workers in other countries, including drop zones visited after his participation in international meets. In addition, he has helped other teams at international meets with tips on organization, ground practice, exits and other suggestions for improving the quality of RW competition.
Six outstanding and world-recognized freefall photographers:
Andy Keech, from Australia. His beautiful book "Skies Call" attests to his unique talent for capturing the unusual and the beautiful in relative work parachuting. Andy lives in Washington, D.C.
Ray Cottingham, from Long Beach, California. His breathtaking aerial photography of sequential relative work, as performed by jumpers in Seattle and Casa Grande, turned a lot of people on to a new way of looking at relative work. Ray has been shooting freefall film for a number of years.
Carl Boenish, from Los Angeles. He is perhaps the best-known of all freefall photographers - his beautiful shots are seen in all parachuting magazines, posters, postcards, etc. He shot the 26-man World Record Star in 1972. He produced the popular film, "Masters of the Sky." He has shot thousands of feet of film of relative work, and has also turned his camera on hang-gliding.
Jerry Irwin, from Delaware. He is not only a well-known RW photographer on the East Coast, but a very promotion-minded one as well. His shots have found their way into the general media (newspapers, magazines) where they help create a favorable impression for parachuting among the general public.
M. Anderson Jenkins, from Whittier, California. He shot the World's First 20-Man Night Star - a remarkable photograph. He has been shooting relative work for a number of years. His photographs have also found their way into the general media.
Peter Bottgenbach, from Germany. He is probably the most well-known European freefall photographer. He filmed the first World RW Cup at Fort Bragg; his photographs grace the pages of many European parachuting magazines.
Al Krueger, "Captain Hook," who captained his 10-man team of Sky Pirates skillfully for more than three years, culminating in their winning the National Championships in 1975 and then, the First World Championships of Relative Work at Warendorf, Germany, in an unforgettably hard-fought victory. Al, a fair-minded and thorough individual, is a supporter of international competition and a spreader of good will. He has always been willing to contribute his knowledge to others.
B.J. Worth, captain of the U.S. Freefall Exhibition Team which turned-on the world's imagination with sequential relative work at Warendorf in 1975, has been a steady contributor of level-headed thinking to the growth of sequential relative work.
Matt Farmer, an avid progressive-thinking relative worker, is honored for his willingness to help others learn as much about progressive relative work as he knows. Matt, author of numerous "how-to" articles on sequential, ranging from 4-man to 20-man, can always be found wherever the good sequential RW is happening.
Hank Ascuitto, a creative rigger and enthusiastic supporter of competition relative work, was the first to turn out really lightweight gear that was reliable. He has contributed a lot of the innovative thinking that characterizes RW gear today. Others have made lightweight canopies and container systems, but Hank's Piglett II was the first to make lightweight gear popular and practical.
Sam Brown, captain of the "Rainbow Flyers" 4-man Team which has been the winner of two consecutive world 4-man events, is an enthusiastic competitor and promoter of the 4-man relative work event. The "Rainbow Flyers" began as a fun team and grew into a tough competitive team, proving that hard work and consistent effort pay off.
Bill Ottley, an avid supporter of sport parachuting in general, has devoted untiring effort to the improvement and growth of relative work on an international scale. Bill, former vice president of USPA and a member of the current Board of Directors, is a level-headed supporter of both competitive and fun-jumping relative work.
* * *
There are many who continue to support and contribute to the healthy growth of relative work. If Certificates of Merit were still being awarded, there would be several deserving recipients.
"Thank you" is a sweet sound to anyone. Recipients of these Certificates are special people ... people who have given of themselves so that all of us who participate in the sport may benefit. We are all served by their positive efforts on our behalf.
Combined Relative Work Awards
In 1976, U.S.P.A.'s Board of Directors officially assumed the administration and presentation of the Combined Relative Work Championship trophies at the Nationals each year, stating that they will be considered as "equal in importance and significance" to the Individual Overall Championship awards for men and women.
The concept of a combined relative work award was originally the brainchild of Dan Poynter. RWunderground thought it was an excellent way to recognize all-around ability in relative work, and announced the new award in the June 1973 issue:
"We are proud to announce that there will be an award to the RW competitor(s) who places highest in both 4-man and 10-man competition at the Nationals.
"These awards will recognize competitors who show themselves to have superior ability in both 4-man and 10-man RW. RWunderground will present handsome trophies, suitably inscribed.
"The National Champion(s) of Combined RW will be selected as follows: RW'ers on both 4-man and 10-man teams will receive points based on their overall standings in each respective event. (First place = 1 point; Second place = 2 points, etc.) At the conclusion of both events points will be totaled - the lowest score is National Champion of Combined RW. It is likely that there will be more than one winner since many 4-man teams are part of a 10-man team."
The combined RW trophy quickly became accepted as the "decathlon of relative work." Like the Olympics event, the winners of the trophy have proven their competence at a variety of athletic events -both 10-man speed stars and 4-man sequential, in this case. As in the Olympics, there can be no individual overall RW champion because relative work is a team event.
Since the award was initiated, it has become a coveted prize, with teams vying for the combined trophies. Alternates were not eligible unless they actually made the jumps in both 10-man and 4-man events.
Following is an official list of the National Champions of Combined Relative Work, recognized by RWunderground from 1972 to 1976, including second and third place runners-up.
OFFICIAL LISTNATIONAL CHAMPIONS OF COMBINED RW
September, 1975 Parachutist lists these members of Brand X team:(Alternate not indicated; eligibility unknown because award recipient must have been an active competitor in both events of the meet.)
Brand X: Dennis Dean, Dennis Downing, Gary Henry, Greg Reisinger, Jim West
The Symbolism of the National Champion of Combined RW Trophy(s)
... I'm writing on behalf of me and the other 3 guys who won the '75 Combined RW Championship trophies-Carl Winther, Sandy Sandoval and Mike Gennis! What the hell is the silver bowl and spoon supposed to be symbolic of? We've tried everything from Raisin Bran to Pea Gravel and still aren't sure! If there is any particular reasoning we are sure curious! Is it true that next year's overall trophy will be a silver tea pot?
-Mike Steele, Sacramento, California
Once in the great dim past of featherless birds and other strange pre-stuff, the tradition of presenting a Sterling Silver Revere Bowl to honor people types for great and unsurpassed achievements of human (and non-human) endeavor was instituted.
As a hoedover of this moldy past, we have the America's Cup, the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the boll weevil. All of these here saying "far-out"about SOMETHING to SOMEBODY so other clods would meby shut up and listen to the music.
At about the same time - in celebration of the decline of the post office, the telephone, the 5 cent beer and free love - a gentleperson, Quaker Oat named Nixon, invented the silver spoon. His motto: "If you're not born with a silver spoon in your mouth, lie a lot. And that way somebody will eventually give you one to stir the shit with when it gets too heavy." (Source: Nixon Papers.)
As you mayhap have noticed, the Revere bowl is of the correct and proper shape for a serving bowl for assorted nuts. The silver spoon is carefully contoured to catch all the dribbles that might otherwise miss the crapper. I mean ... need I say more... Raisin Bran! Pea Gravel! Hrrumph!!
RWunderground, June 1976.
Continuous Babble by Pat Works - SCS No. 1
Since the beginning of time (when relative work first began), years have put new heroes and hopes into our collective freefall-frenzied minds. To wit:
1. The common denominator has always been a secret ecstasy that the brothers of freefall relative work engage in and can only call joy. It's Jonathan Livingstoned Farking Seagull. It's knowing that the constant reward of good swooping is joy.
2. In RW-type swooping we make contact somewhere in the field of our existence, amidst all the sound and fury of the rushing sky. It's our thing, a kind of being, if you will, that happens during an inspired jump.
3. Often, it's a weird feeling after a jump ... adjusting back to ordinary reality. Our freefall reality just doesn't mesh with the black-and-white-with-no-gray lines that many people use to delineate life.
4. I like to share what I've learned about swoopin' and relative work with others. After all, good things are to be shared. I've jumped and I've listened to other jumpers. And so, I wrote it all into a book (The Art of Freefall Relative Work). It's all the feelings and the techniques many have related to me, because people who want to fly deserve to know all about flying that has gone before.
5. Right now, my three favorite kinds of jumping are:
International 4-Man RW
Big-door Speed Stars (with a 2nd maneuver)
6. A group of us have formed a 5-man sequential-maneuver team. Our goal is to learn how to do stable donuts, fast bipoles, and better flying backwards and sideways. We are having fun.
7. People shouldn't get so uptight about current changes in our sport. I see no reason why we should fix the sport of relative work or parachuting where it is, especially after all the changes it has gone through already. Why shouldn't our sport be a place where we can develop the joy we've been talking about?
Glad to see the Star Crest is doing a magazine. Communications is a very good way to relate to others. The printed word spreads thought thoroughly and reasonably fast. RW intercommunications spreads the germs of ideas that blossom into expanded horizons.
Friction... there'll always be big-mouth stupidoes who will tell you how screwed up you are if you're not into THEIR favorite thing. Since the split between style and accuracy is dying down, some people are cooking up a new schism between speed-stars and sequential RW. Very feeble thinking, to my way of thinking,
It's like an echo. Sounds hardly heard ... bouncing around and getting garbled into misunderstandings, with pigheaded cheerleaders egging it all on.
RW is a very personal thing. You should do the kind of relative work YOU like to do. The critical thing to remember is that no type of relative work (4-man, speed-star, sequential, static maneuvers, 35-man, night, naked, all-girl, all-collegiate, all-beards, etc. etc.) is either "good" or "bad" or "better." It's all RW.
To do any kind of RW you must relate to others in the air. This relatedness has created a special kinship between us all. We're all "family." We all owe a debt to the RW family. Every RW'er should do his or her best to spread knowledge and joy. Let's let time settle the petty hassles, and let's all do lots of RW!
More boogie! More RW!
Pat Works, Starcrest Magazine, October, 1975
How it's Done: Floating
(Pete Picciolo originally wrote this idea he had for using floaters to improve star times in 1970.) If the first person out can stand outside a twin beech, with only his right foot on the door sill and his right hand holding him upright facing forward, he won't have to worry about getting blown away. There is no wind coming over the top of the wing after the cut.
The first person out the door should bend his right knee and push up and out as he lets go with his right hand, keeping his body in the same line of flight as the aircraft. Don't let the air blast take you away from the base any farther than you can help it. The least resistance to the forward speed of the aircraft will put you closer to where you want to be. While you are doing this, reverse your arch and put your arms out in front of you over your head and bent slightly at the elbows, with your hands down almost 45deg. to the ground. It's just a good old hand track. This will give you forward speed, while the reverse arch brings you up to the base. If done correctly you will be on the same levee reaching for a set of wrists about the same time the base is hooking up.
Minor adjustments are necessary to keep your heading and to know when to let up on your arch and hand track. The first few tries are a gas. It's easy to find yourself 100 ft. above the base, or with so much forward speed that you have to stand up vertically to stop. Believe me, tracking up is a trip. The second and third floaters out the door should execute approximately a 90deg. turn to the right, then go into the reverse arch and hand track.
RWu, September 1974
3, 2, I-GO! Ten-Man Star Relative Work (1973)
Competition exits make a real difference. Exit, leave the plane, bombout ... none of these words convey the energy and coordinated scrambling of the sprinting pell-mell rush thru the door. You know what I mean if you've ever felt the power and emotion of a competition exit. It's an awesome attempt to have the shortest possible distance between the front man and the last man in the lineup with the most miniscule amount of time elapsing between the first and the last man leaving the door.
The exit is beyond question the most important part of a speed star. The exit has more effect on your recorded star time than any other element of the jump. All championship 10-man teams agree that fully 70-80 per cent of your recorded time on a jump is directly related to your exit time.
In speed stars, forget notions about good airwork being key. Remember that all good speed-star teams do their airwork well. The only place there's room to reduce speed-star times when everyone is flying good is to speed up the exit. I repeat, the exit is the most important part of your jump for time.
Even a fraction of a second reduction in your exit time will give you stars that are several seconds faster. The overwhelming importance of the exit means you must concentrate four times as hard on exits. Several practice exits should be made before every load until the exit and lineup "feel" right to everyone. When it's too windy to jump many teams practice exits with their gear on. If you have a team member who won't or can't get enthusiastic about fast exits and the practice of them, either help him to improve or remove him from the team. It is that important if the team is serious about competition.
Champion teams take full advantage of the existing rules on exiting. Team members position themselves like parts of a jig-saw puzzle ... contorting, bending, stooping, squatting, perching or whatever to make the distance between the first and last man as short as possible. If you're comfortable, you are probably slow. Your position may be so bizarre that the only thing that gets you out the door is the push of those behind you.
The countdown leader must have perfect, constant cadence. The rhythm musn't vary. He starts the count and conducts it like a choirmaster. Everyone counts loud! Everyone sways together with each beat. On "GO!" everybody moves. You don't wait for the guy in front of you to move, you move, NOW!
With a small door aircraft, when you dash for the door, stay low all the time so you won't have to bend when you reach the door. Take short, quick, shuffling duck-walk steps. Keep your hands and body on the man in front of you. Dive before you get to the door.
If you do it right, you'll find your face touching the backs of the legs of the man in front of you. If you're any further away than that, then you're just not exiting properly.
Pat Works. RWu, October 1973
Pete Picciolo, SCR-23, was captain of the Arvin Good Guys, one of the first 10-man teams in California. He sent us a copy of a letter he wrote to the team as they were preparing for spring practice in March of 1970. What he said then about the importance of a fast exit is also true today, and may be useful to some teams. He gave some figures taken from the Complete Book of Sky Diving:
"Take a look at the distance we could save by cutting just two seconds off our exit time. This savings is actually more than it appears on the chart, due to the fact that the first man is still gaining distance on the last man because the last man is still trying to get to terminal."
Fast exits continue to be a vital part of any relative work jump, competition or sequential, but 10-man star times have certainly come a long way. Pete closed his letter to his team with this challenge: "How about a sub-terminal 5-man? Or a 30-second 10-man?"
RWu, September 1974