Basic Body Flight for B-Rels and Beyond

Basic Body Flight for B-Rels and Beyond

Basic Body Flight for B-rels and Beyond Thesis by Alan Moss 2008


This thesis is targeted at “B rel” students and their instructors. It is intended to be used in conjunction with the “B” rel manual. The objective is to describe existing freefall positions and introduce new ideas to aid progression in flat flying techniques.

It also includes information for students which is valuable after obtaining a “B” licence. The thesis encompasses freefall body positions, desired movement and instructional techniques.

References to posture and muscle groups explain in detail body posture in freefall. To make this thesis more easily understandable, simple English has been adopted for anatomical terms.

Skydiving is a relatively young sport which means new techniques are being developed, and innovative training aids are being created. Since the beginning of my skydiving career in 1991 many changes have occurred in the sport. More turbine aircraft going higher and more often, there is a wide spread use of video debriefing, and the introduction of the wind tunnel has enabled skydivers to increase time in the air in a controlled environment for instant feedback. There are more skilled coaches, and there is now a focus placed on good health for the mind and body, to improve competition performance. All of these factors have helped increase the knowledge of body flight dramatically.

I started jumping in 1991 and have completed 10,000 jumps. This comprises of over 5000 team training jumps in 4, 8 and 16 way, and more than 100 competitions. Also included are 1000 B-rel instructional and 2 way coaching jumps, and 1000 AFF jumps, most of which were videoed for debriefing purposes.

The need for revision and modernisation of the information that is included in the current “B” license manual has inspired this thesis. It is not intended to replace the manual, rather introduce new ideas and methods that incorporate traditional techniques.

It is my intention that the information in this thesis will lead to more techniques for teaching freefall skills, and a higher level of ability and understanding for students.

It is important that this information be updated regularly. As more is discovered about body flight, opinions and methods are likely to change, I hope the evolution of teaching practices will be encouraged and embraced.

Body Position Basics


The initial freefall objective is to be able to achieve stable flight. This is attained by the basic position of the “hard arch”. Once this has been achieved the next step is to move in a controlled manner around the sky, ultimately in all directions, with the ability to stop movement when required. To do this a range of body positions has been developed, with significant changes over the last 15 years.

Humans have different body shapes; however the basics for effective body flight remain the same.

It is important to know which body positions achieve which desired movement, and why they do this. Each position is made up of a particular, specific posture. It is also important to understand which muscles to use, and how much tension to apply to them to achieve these postures. It is effectively another language that is simple to understand for someone new to the sport.

Core strength

If you're following the trends in exercise and fitness, you've probably heard the phrase "core strength." Core strength refers to the muscles of your abs and back and their ability to support your spine and keep your body stable and balanced.

The starting point and a key part to controlling movement is core strength. Athletes and dancers have been aware for a long time that the muscles in the abdominal and back area control all body movements. Hence if the muscle groups in the centre if the body are firm skydiving will be easier as the body is more balanced. Core strength assists stable body flight and all movements required in freefall. Having this group of muscles in solid tone, without being tense, makes all other inputs from other parts of the body significantly more effective and balanced.

This group of muscles shall be referred to as the “core muscle group” throughout this document.

Below are some exercises to increase core strength

Exercise Description Notes
Twist Crunch Knees bent/feet flat on floor. Fingertips behind your ears. Lead your right shoulder towards your left knee. Keep your head neutral. Your shoulders will only come off the ground a few inches. Do not come down too fast. Do not lead your elbow to your knee.
Sky Reach Knees bent/feet flat on floor. Bring arms up even with your chest, reaching up towards the sky. Keep arms straight. Pick a point above and reach for it. Your shoulders will come off the ground a few inches. Come back slowly. Variation: Keep heels on the ground, but toes off the ground
Marching Lay face up. Knees bent. Feet flat on the ground. Hands on the ground extended by your side. Lift your hips/butt off the ground. Lift one leg off the ground and extend the knee. Then bend the knee and return to starting position. Repeat with the other leg. Be sure to keep your hips neutral; do not let them rock to either side. Variation: Bend your elbows and point fingers up, or straighten arms and point entire arm up.
Quadruped Begin on your hands and knees. Engage the core muscles. Lift the right arm straight in front. At the same time move your left leg straight back (not up). Hold for one to two seconds and return each limb to its starting position. Repeat on other side. Your hips should not rock to one side. Keep the core engaged the entire time.

Analysing body positions

When starting any sport learning the correct methods and techniques from the outset is the best way to accelerate progress. Primacy in learning is a term which defines this. It is important that the correct body position for skydiving is developed from the beginning of the learning process; it is difficult to break old habits that are incorrect.

Students learning the various freefall body positions must look closely at the anatomical structure. To explain how each position is achieved, the body can be divided up into separate parts; this enables students to understand the factors relevant to movement.

The details shall be delivered in the following format.

Details: A general description of the body position it is to achieve.

Posture: Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities.

Proper posture:
  • Keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly.
  • Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
  • Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy.

Posture for each position shall be considered to maximise efficiency and comfort

Muscles: This describes which muscles are used and approximately how tense each should be to allow the body to have the correct posture.

This will be described in four groups as follows:

  • Loose 25%
  • Medium 50%
  • Firm 75%
  • Maximum 100%

To get the most out of each skydive good information, training and practice are important. During the first jump course the hard arch position is repeated over and over until it becomes second nature. What is happening is the build up of muscle memory. As we progress we adopt a more comfortable body position called the neutral position. From there we start performing manoeuvres so we can move around the sky.

As with the hard arch learnt in the first jump course, new freefall positions are repeated to build up muscle memory. If there is a good understanding of which muscles are being used and students practice regularly, muscle memory will benefit skydiving skills.

Notes: This shall address common problems that occur with each position and provide instructional techniques on how to handle each one. Some of these examples are well known and some are relatively new.

Body Positions for Stability


There are two main body positions for stable flight. The first is the “hard arch”. This is the most stable position for flying belly to earth. The second position is the “neutral body position”. The “neutral body position” is very similar to the “boxman”, however it has some subtle differences explained in the notes section of the “neutral body position”.

Hard Arch

The Hard Arch


The first body position skydivers learn is the “hard arch” – this is the most stable freefall position. The hips are pushed down to create a low center of gravity, like a shuttlecock. A low centre of gravity is the basic element of stability.
A “hard arch” is used to gain stability in freefall, assists particularly when deploying the main parachute, in emergency procedures, and exiting aircraft.


The head, torso and legs are bent back as much as possible. Arms as high as possible with restricting the arch.


Maximum: All muscles throughout torso and legs that produce an arch – back, rear of the neck, hamstrings & buttocks while pushing the hips forward.
Medium: Arms are not to be rigid, as they are used for deploying the parachute in the “hard arch” position.


Head: It has previously been understood the head should be up, looking at the horizon. Holding the head up intensifies the arch and opens the chest, improving the body’s ‘anchor’ on the air. However this is not always possible when deploying rip cord handles that are placed on the front of the harness, be it a main, SOS or two shot reserve deployment system. A hard “arch” should be able to be performed whilst the head is down looking at handles.
Arms: It is a common practice to have a student lift their arms as high as possible for a “hard arch”, however this will reduce their ability to bend – try it. Stability is gained by a bent torso – not by arms up. Lifting the arms also restricts the ability to move them, which inturn may hinder their use in the deployment of the main parachute, or to perform emergency procedures.

Neutral body position

Neutral Body Position


This is a comfortable and balanced position which is achieved by having muscle groups in the mid range of their movement, avoiding stretching or contracting muscle groups. This allows the full range of movement of the body, therefore a full range of movement in freefall.
A symmetrical position on the air stream is necessary to remain ‘neutral’ in freefall. Asymmetry causes movement: lateral dissymmetry induces a rotation, dissymmetry of the font-back pressure causes forward movement or backsliding. Once a position is taken, the flow of air around the body will help maintain it without significant effort.
This is the base position that allows us to hold a constant position in the sky, heading, and fall rate. The skydiver controls the airflow, not the other way around.


Head moving freely. Eyes level with the horizon, maintained when turning head. Elbows slightly lower than torso, slightly forward of shoulders with elbows bent at 90º to upper arm. Hips down and knees back, slightly less than shoulder width apart. Legs extended so tibia and pointed toes are in the air flow. Muscle groups in the arms and the legs should be contracted/stretched evenly, allowing maximum movement, resulting in a greater range of freefall movement.


Medium: The arms are not to be rigid as they are used for picking up grips and keying
Firm: The core muscle group must be engaged as it is the foundation for stability and balance.


Arms: The arms must be symmetrical. The hands flat, just in eyesight and loose. The elbows are about 10º forward and 10º lower than the shoulders which give increased leverage and control compared with the traditional “90º boxman”; this tends to cramp the neck, stretches the chest muscles, and restricts the head from being held up. The standard boxman often has the arms in line with the eyes, obscuring the skydiver’s vision when looking left and right. This in turn can lead to looking under the arm which de-arches the body.
Eyes: The eyes should be kept level with the horizon. As with riding a motorcycle, keeping them level when turning keeps the picture received by the brain one which is easy to decipher.
Legs: The legs must also be symmetrical. Better sensation of the air pressure on the arms rather than on the legs means pushing the tibias slightly on the air helps ‘feel’ its pressure. The legs have to be slightly apart in order to obtain lateral stability. However legs should not be too wide, as having legs too far apart prevents the essential movement of a stable position: putting the hips down. The toes should be pointed towards the sky. This lifts the knees and induces muscle tone throughout the whole leg. The position of the legs cannot be visually checked so the use of video in the early stages of jumping is highly recommended.
Upper body: The head must be up. As with the “hard arch” this intensifies the arching and opens the chest.

Common problems



A position too tense and stiff emphasises small dissymmetry which would not otherwise be a problem. Tension is often generated in the upper body and usually caused by nervousness and excitement in freefall.


Smiling and breathing help relieve tension in the body. Identify muscles that are over working and practice correct positions. Ensure when the head or arms move it is independent to the torso.

Freefall Signal Action
Tap Nose Breathe in through your nose
Smile / tongue poke / blowing kiss Respond with same action
Wiggle fingers Wiggle fingers to reduce tension in the arms



This occurs when the spine bends to the left or right, causing the torso to twist and making the legs unbalanced. This is often caused when one elbow is placed behind the shoulder towards the back of the body during a turn.


Maintain a straight spine by ensuring the elbows do not go behind the shoulder. If hands are in the field of vision when looking forward, and maintained in this position throughout turns, the elbows will be correct and no twisting shall occur. Applying muscles that give core strength will also help prevent twisting. This is should be adopted when using training aids such as creepers.
Freefall signal Action
Wiggle fingers Wiggle fingers and observe they are in field of vision and lower than the eyes
Hold hands flat together Respond with the same action.
Pointing down Hips down/tighten core muscle group




Not arching results in an unstable flying position. This spills air unevenly around the body, and places the centre of gravity above the centre point of the body. Lifting buttocks, dropping legs or looking down will de-arch the body.


Squeeze buttocks tight and push down. Steer with pelvis to help push hips down. Lift head and hamstrings high. Lift knees and push the balls of the feet up
Freefall signal Action
Pointing down Hips down/tighten core muscle group
Tap under chin Lift head / eyes level with horizon
Pointing index finger up Lift hamstrings / point toes / push balls of feet up

Knees down

Knees down


Knees dropped and arching through the chest and top half of body only causes this unstable body position.


Squeeze buttocks tight or steer with pelvis to help push your hips down. Lift hamstrings high/lift balls of feet/push toes to the end of your shoes
Freefall signal Action
Pointing index finger up Lift hamstrings / point toes / push balls of feet up
Pointing down Hips down/tighten core muscle group

Wide legs

Wide Legs


Wide legs reduce the effectiveness of the legs as they often remain bent. This means that the lower part of the leg is not in the airflow, it also causes de-arching. Wide legs will drop knees/de-arch body due to the hip joint - as the legs get wider the knees get lower.


Bring knees closer together and extend legs via freefall signals. Lifting legs/hamstrings will usually bring legs closer too. When the legs move closer they must be extended simultaneously. Tightening the core group of muscles can also help bring legs closer together.
Freefall signal Action
Pinching thumb and index finger Bring knees closer by small amounts each time
Pointing index finger up Lift hamstrings/ point toes / push balls of feet up
Pointing down Hips down/tighten core muscle group

Arms back

Arms back


Without air pressure in front of the arms and body, the body rocks back and forth and is not comfortable or balanced. Arms back will lower the front part of the body and cause the head to drop, reducing the ability to see and pick up grips when required. Using arms to generate movement doing relative work is effective but has long term problems.


The hands have to be placed within eyesight to restore the symmetry in air pressure. In the neutral body position the hands should be in the field of vision and lower than the eyes.
Freefall signal Action
Wiggle fingers Wiggle fingers and observe they are in field of vision and lower than the eyes
Hold hands flat together Respond with the same (as if holding a clapped position) action.

Legs bent

Legs Bent


Bent legs results in the torso angled top high and no air flow over lower leg which combined results in backsliding.


The legs must be extended and toes pointed so that the air pressure can be felt on the tibias and feet. This gives balance and control.

Freefall signal Action
Index finger up Lift hamstrings, point toes and push balls of feet up
Straight peace sign Extend legs by approximately 10° or 10cm for each signal given

Arms in front and high

Arms in front and high


Arms that are too high and too far in front of the body increases the air pressure to the front, causing backsliding and rocking back and forth.


The hands have to be placed so they are just eyesight to restore symmetry of the air pressure. In the neutral body position the hands should be in the field of vision and the arms lower than the eyes.
Freefall signal Action
Wiggle fingers Wiggle fingers and observe they are in field of vision
Wiggle elbows Ensure you can see over arms
Hold hands flat together Respond with the same action

Summary - Neutral body position

General Body is to be nertral, comfortable and balanced
Hands In front within your field of vision lower than the eyes
Elbows Slightly forward and slightly lower of shoulder
Slight arch No muscle group should be tense
Eyes Level with the horizon
Knees A little less than shoulder width apart
Lower leg Extended approximately 20°
Feet Balls of feet pointing up

Body Position for Movement


The “neutral body position” can be used as a foundation for the positions that are used for movement in freefall. The body is divided into parts to help understand the changes required to perform the various movements during body flight.

AFF Stage 2 - Introduction to Movement

We now generate practically all of our movement in freefall with the legs. The main reason being using legs are more effective due to the fact that they control a greater amount of air which can obviously create more movement. For example, an AFF instructor is constantly using hands to give signals in freefall, holding onto students for exits and even catching people that may require assistance to become stable. For reasons such as these the majority of body flight is done with our legs. When performing relative work the same practice applies – we are checking height, picking up grips and keying formations.

Fall rate

Fall rate differences

Fall rate refers to the speed at which a body descends in freefall. This term is usually applied as a speed relative to other skydivers. It is governed by the following four factors, all should be considered before a jump.

The table below can be used as a guide.

Name Type Slow Medium Fast
Body Weight Variable* 50kg 75kg 100kg
Body Shape Non Variable Tall/Thin Average Solid
Body Position Slightly Variable Flate Neutral Bent
Clothing* Variable Loose Normal Tight

Step one

The neutral body position is desired as it will allow a maximum range of movement and comfort - it can be adjusted slightly but not excessively. If the position is bent dramatically one way or the other, it reduces the ability to move freely around the sky. The first step is to achieve a comfortable position.

Step two

Select the correct jump suit. A baggy suit will slow down fall rate and a tight suit will increase the fall rate

Step three

Body weight can be increased by wearing additional clothing* in the form of a lead belt. The best skydivers in the world use lead to adjust fall rate when required.

How much?

As a guide, if 1kg of lead is used, it is equivalent to approximately 4 - 5kg of body weight. For example, if a 60kg person was to jump with someone who weighs 80kg they would wear 4 to 5kg of lead, provided they were the same build. If the 80kg person was tall and thin, and the 60kg person was of average build, they may not have to wear weight at all. All of the other fall rate considerations should be taken into account when selecting the amount of lead to wear.

Side note:

Extra weight increases canopy wing loading. This has an advantage considering that the light people who are wearing lead are almost always are under loading their canopy.


Be on level While doing relative work the first priority is maintaining the same horizontal level as the other jumpers
How This is achieved by increasing the body’s arch to fall aster, and decreasing the arch to fall slower
Eyes To maintain horizontal level it is important to look across the formation and not at the grips
Docking A formation can withstand a slightly hard dock that is on level. It will disturb the formation if entered from above or below.

Forward movement


Forward movement is used to describe movement on the horizontal plane lead by the upper body. This example is for horizontal movement only. Diving or delta movements which incorporate vertical and horizontal movement simultaneously are described in the star crest section of this document.


From the “neutral position” the legs are extended, placing more of the tibia into the airflow. The pressure on the legs creates the forward movement. The arms remain in the “neutral position”.


Maximum Lift the hamstrings and tighten quadriceps to get the legs to extend. Push the chest muscles forward in the direction of movement.
Firm The core muscle group is firm throughout.
Medium Maintain the forearms in the neutral position. The elbows may move slightly forward as the chest muscles contract.

Notes Arms: When performing relative work and a small amount of forward movement is required, the arms are to remain in the “neutral position”. Pulling them back creates forward movement; however it also lowers the centre of gravity, dipping the upper half of the body. This induces fall rate change and reduces the ability to see. In addition, as the arms move forward to pick up grips, the body moves up and back, an undesirable position to be in.

Chest: To increase the speed of forward movement, the chest is to be in the direction of travel. This tightens the leg muscles and makes them significantly more effective.

Backward movement


Backward movement is used to describe movement on the horizontal leading with the legs.


From the neutral position the arms are extended, taking the centre of toward the rear of the body. The pressure on the arms also creates the backward movement. To increase the speed of the movement, the knees can be brought close together and dropped. The angle of the airflow on the thighs causes increased backward movement.


Firm Contract the triceps and the muscles at the front of the shoulder to extend the arms and contract quadriceps to drop the knees. The core muscle group is firm throughout
Loose The neck should be loose as it is desirable to be able to move your head to look around.

Notes Backward movement is used only for small distances due to the lack of visual reference. If outfacing and the formation is more than one body length away, it is recommended to turn back toward the formation, cover the distance facing forward, then turn when in position.

Rotation / Turns


There are many different techniques for turning however the basic premise is essentially the same for each one: establish a lateral dissymmetry. Starting from the neutral position the simplest method is to slightly push down the upper part of the arm. The air pressure will make the body turn like a propeller.


Another technique is to lower a knee in the direction of the turn. With the tibia in the air flow as the knee is dropped, a greater surface area is created in comparison to the arm turn. This allows the turn to be completed at the same pace, with less movement and more control. To stop the turn the opposing leg is lowered until rotation stops.


Firm Drop knee by flexing quads to start and stop turn. Drop opposite elbow slightly to create a propeller shape with the body. Ensuring the core muscle group is engaged will prevent twisting and help will stability throughout turn.
Loose The neck should be loose as it is desirable to be able to move your head to look around.

Notes Torso: The torso provides stability and helps adjust fall rate. When performing basic movements such as turns, the torso should maintain symmetry. A common problem for inexperienced skydivers is twisting the torso throughout a turn. For example, when attempting a left turn the torso twists to the left and the left elbow drops, the torso twisting the opposite direction can induce a turn in the opposite direction or sometimes stall in the movement. To prevent twisting the elbows must remain in line or slightly forward of the shoulder. To achieve this, both hands must be in the field of vision when looking forward. Practicing this builds muscle memory.

Head: It is an advantage to have free movement of the head in all directions without the torso being influenced. This enables the eyes to remain on the target without affecting the body’s flight. This is particularly important for turns in relative work, as it is necessary to keep the eyes looking toward the centre to assist in maintaining proximity and relative height. This is often taught in AFF with great success.

Slow fall


This is the slowest rate which a body can fall in freefall. It is typically used in formation skydiving when a skydiver has dropped below the group. Creating surface area reduces the fall rate. This is achieved by moving to the side of the formation and turning side on to it. Keeping the formation in sight, lower the head and spread the arms and legs as far as possible, assuming a flat stance. Hold this position until far enough above the formation to make a correct approach.


Point feet and toes as much as possible into a flat star position. Completely flatten torso. Place head to side and push down – this helps with de-arching. The aim is to be as flat as possible.


Maximum All muscles at maximum tension – be as rigid as possible.


The traditional 'hugging the beach ball' theory has been discarded as the air ‘spills out’ all around the body and it is difficult to remain stable in this position. This has been demonstrated in wind tunnel tests.

Fast fall


This is the fastest fall rate which can be achieved in freefall. It is typically used in formation skydiving when descending to the formation. The aim of this position is to reduce the amount of surface area of the body by bending as much as possible.


Bend the torso and legs as much as possible and have the head back. Arms should be pushed right down with hands close together to get them under the chest – the aim is to spill as much air as possible.


Maximum All muscles throughout torso and legs that produce an arch – back, rear of the neck, hamstrings & squeezing buttocks tight whilst pushing the hips forward.
Medium Arms are not to be rigid as they are used for deploying the parachute in the hard arch position.

Notes The arms move forward and down for fast fall for two reasons. When the arms are pushed down it allows the body to bend more, spill more air and fall faster. When the arms are under the chest they are effectively out of the airflow so they are not producing drag.

Side movement


Side movement is used to describe movement on the horizontal plain leading with the side of the body.


From the “neutral position” the knee and the arm are pushed down on the same side. The torso rotates around the spine. The side movement will be in the direction of the downward knee and arm, as the pressure is different on each side of the body. To stop the movement, the opposite input is applied to the other side of the body.


Firm Contract the core muscle group, chest and leg muscles and rotate around the spine pushing the elbow and knee down.

Notes A significant amount people trying this for the first time rotate around the front of their body. To overcome this tighten the core group of muscles and use more input on lowering the knee



To ‘track’ in freefall, the air pressure in front of the body has to be reduced, this is done by placing the arms beside the body. The legs must be stretched to increase the air pressure on the rear. De-arch, still looking at the horizon, and glide on the bubble of air that is created. The shoulders have to be hollowed forming the shape of a wing, making the track even more efficient.


Look at the horizon
Turn 180° from the centre of the formation
Start from neutral position
Be stopped and balanced
Point fingers and toes
Straighten legs – lock out ankles, knees & hips. Slowly straighten & sweep arms back
Bend at the waist
Bend to create an aerofoil shape
Roll shoulders forward
This creates a ‘trap’ for the air
Steer with the chest
To maintain desired heading or turning to avoid other jumpers


Maximum Once in the track position all leg, arm and torso muscles should be at maximum tension – be as rigid as possible.
Loose The neck should be loose as it is desirable to be able to move your head to look around.

Notes Below is the break down of the track position. Each of these tasks should be completed in order they are presented.

Look – for a heading (on the horizon or the ground) Stop – totally prior to tracking – be balanced in the neutral position Point - legs first then sweep arms back and lock in position Bend - in the waist (often more than you think) Roll - shoulders to cup the air – be the shape of an aerofoil


Freefall signals

When the freefall body position requires correction, it is necessary for adjustments to the posture to be made. Changing to the correct body position whilst in freefall is the only effective way to learn and will provide the best results.

Below is a list of signals. More than half of the signals have been learnt before and the additional signals are obvious and easy to interpret in freefall.

Height awareness
Looking of tapping or alti Check height
Fist Reach grip throw – open parachute
Pointing down Hips down/tighten core muscle group
Instructor goes above Slow fall to match level / decrease fall rate
Circle with finger Demonstrate a 360°
Point sideways Move sideways
Index finger towards yourself Fly in front / face off on
Tap mouth Breathe in through your mouth
Tongue poke / blowing kiss Smile and reduce tension on muscles
Clapping hands More aggression / greater input
Pointing at eyes Maintain eye contact / eyes on the target
Flat hand horizontal at eyes Eyes level with horizon
Flat hand vertical at nose Point nose/face to target
Wiggle head Head to move freely/reduce tension in neck
Straight peace sign Extend legs / more tibia on airflow
Bent peace sign Bend legs / bend at knee cap
Pointing index finger up Lift hamstrings / point toes / push balls of feet up
Pinching thumb and index finger Bring knees closer
Thumb and little finger out Spread knees apart
Fist in hand Use knee more / knee in hand
Wiggle fingers Wiggle fingers and place hands in field of vision ensuring they are below eye level
Wiggle elbows Ensure you can see over arms

Exit techniques


The five steps to exit:


Steps 1& 2 are in the aircraft - Step 3 is as you leave - Steps 4 and 5 are in freefall

This method can be used to evaluate your strengths and weakness’s

It can be used for all aircrafts and disciplines; the set up and presentation are the variables*

An experienced coach should be used as much as possible


- be calm and confident

  • Door opens take some deep breaths – in through the mouth can be better for oxygen intake
  • Concentrate on your exit once the door is opened – think about freefall when you have exited
Set up*

– practice at the mock up and do the same in the sky

  • Be balanced Have your weight over your feet
  • Floaters (outside) Right shoulder close to aircraft & hips 90° to the aircraft, Trail left leg
  • Divers Left foot forward (for a left hand door)

(inside) Left shoulder down & right elbow up when no one is following behind in the same group or Straight back when other people are following behind you


– the time you exit the aircraft and enter freefall

  • A typical count is - Shake, Up, Down, Go from the inside or outside centre
  • Watch the count
  • It helps if all centre points stay close as leaving the aircraft

Floaters Don’t leave divers behind – ie don’t jump away from the aircraft

Divers Don’t be left behind however don’t push – ie bend your arms


– visualize where the formation will be after exit & place yourself there

  • Place elbows, knees and hips onto the “cushion of air” at approximately 60° to the air flow

Floaters Front Present your hips, the inside on your left elbow and the top of your left knee to the relative wind

Rear Down at 45° or straight down depending on the length of the formation

Have legs out so you can be flying immediately

Divers Arching is the first movement you do. Launch from rear (right) foot presenting your hips and the top of the right knee to the relative wind.

Look and fly

– do this from the beginning of the exit

  • Look across the formation and maintain awareness of others
  • Fly your body to keep the same level of the formation – it may require a lot of strength to keep the formation on level and expanding
  • Encountering a “blank spot” when leaving the formation indicates not looking and/or not enough concentration.

Star Crest Techniques

Star Crest Techniques From Basic Body Flight for B-rels and Beyond - Thesis by Alan Moss 2008

This is a procedure to help students and instructors organize and participate in a Star Crest jump.

A Star Crest is an APF award given after completing three 8 ways, docking fifth or later.

The Operational Regulation:

4.1.6. Australian Star Crest (ASC) Conditions:

(a) The applicant must have participated in at least three eight-way Flatfly RW formations entering fifth or later. Only one formation may be counted in any one descent;
(b) The formations should be those used in FAI eight-person competition. Other formations may be accepted at the discretion of the APF Secretariat;
(c) Each formation must be witnessed by two ASC holders or two APF Formation Skydiving Judges;
(d) A Chief Instructor or foreign equivalent must verify that the applicant is safe and competent to participate in larger than ten-person relative work.

Typical Dirt dive

  • Make introductions
  • Use suitable formations (inward facing types, 3 points)
  • Be in a formation & exit slot you are comfortable with
  • Have an experienced person in the base for heading/fall rate control
  • Build first point acknowledging opposite
  • Go through jump including exit, walk through, break off, canopy flight
  • People who dock on the base (called “flakers”), go back 10 paces at the walk through and identify the colours of the base. Include this when mentally running through the jump
  • Do a real-time dirt dive
  • If there is a question – ask!
  • Remain calm, have fun and don’t think about what could go wrong – just visualize the skydive as going to the perfect plan. Exit set up
  • be precise in your set up
  • look for count. If giving the count you look for no movement before starting
  • stay calm (don’t put pressure on yourself – breathing helps)


  • Time your exit correctly and don’t rush
  • Present to relative wind
  • Look for the base straight away and pick your heading
  • Floaters (outside aircraft) are generally closer to the base for docking.
  • As divers (inside aircraft) set up further back in the plane the dive will increase at an expediential rate.
  • Concentrate on the exit; think about the dive once in freefall

Approach and docking

Drawing a line from the centre of the formation through the slot gives the approach heading (this area of approach is called the sector or quadrant). It gives a ‘straight’ approach and prevents ‘traffic problems’. The parts of approach can be broken into three parts

  1. Stop about 10m away on a 45-degree angle and assess the fall rate.
  • When diving the more we pull our arms back the steeper and faster the dive; so be aware we have to stop earlier in a steep dive.
  • Staying above the base is essential. The main cause for going low is rushing – so don’t (it is about 10 times slower to come up on a formation than to come down)
  • Body position can be adjusted throughout the dive.
  1. Stop one body length away on level and match fall rate
  • Get eye contact with the opposite jumper (wink or nod at them to make sure they are looking). This eliminates staring at grips (staring will cause a loss of fall rate and distance perspective)
  • Do small body movements; nothing radical because the dock should be slow and controlled (experience brings speed)
  • Larger formations tend to slow in fall rate as they build (it can feel like the formation is rising)
  1. Move forward, stop and pick up grips
  • Maintain eye contact/centre reference while moving forward and glance at the grips you are picking up

You have just docked and must keep flying

  • Look through centre for fall rate reference
  • Work towards the centre by using legs – more than anticipated.

Break off

  • Stick to the plan and stay disciplined
  • Leave on time, flat-track, be aware of others, no “short tracks”
  • There are too many people with differing experience levels for back loops, jumping on people etc.

Canopy flight

This is a hot topic at present and needs to be planned carefully. Cover flight path, landing pattern/direction considering such things as canopy sizes and experience.

  • Once in clear air, look for other canopy’s and count them
  • Be aware of different canopy performance (Star Crest loads have a wide range of experience on them)

General information

  • If directly above the formation – move straight away
  • If below thee formation and unable to get back on level before break off, track away 1000 feet above track off height. This ensures no one will be tracking above, and reduces the risk of intersecting with other groups on the same load due to an extended track
  • Dress for success. Use a baggy suit/swoop loops for a fast fall rate.

Lighter jumpers and those in the base use lead if required.



Manu Ars, French FS World Champion , Gera, Germany, October 2006.

Damien Sorlin, French FS World Champion, Gera, Germany October 2006.

Mark Kirkby American FS World Champions, Arizona, USA, December 2007

Eric Heinsheimer, American FS World Champions, Arizona, USA, December 2002

Internet article

Learning to Fly With Weights, by Ed Lightle, 2006

Understanding and Enhancing Your Core Strength, by Paige Waehner, 2008