|The 1997 Freefly Festival|
held at Skydive Arizona on November 10-16, 1997
Notes and Observations by Tamara Koyn
DISCLAIMER: THE AUTHOR(S) MAKE NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS AND ASSUMES NO LIABILITY CONCERNING THE VALIDITY OF ANY ADVICE, OPINION, OR RECOMMENDATION EXPRESSED IN THE MATERIAL. ALL INDIVIDUALS RELYING UPON THE MATERIAL DO SO AT THEIR OWN RISK.
The following material does not necessarily represent my opinions. Rather, it represents my best effort to capture information that I have acquired at the festival. I do not guarantee that it is error free.
The briefing at the start of the festival was simple:
- Regardless of discipline, bigger groups exit first before smaller groups. Use horizontal separation between groups.
- Don't depend on someone else to break you off.
- If your Cypres fires and you end up in a bi-plane, leave your reserve in brakes and fly the bi-plane.
- Once open, fly perpendicular to the line of flight.
- No turns more than 180 degrees under canopy when making your landing. When landing, follow the tetrahedron. Land in the same direction as the first person down.
This year, the freefly festival was bigger and included more events. Apparently, the event was sponsored by Red Bull Energy Drink and UltraNector. Norman Kent was there with his movie cameras. It was impressive to see him flying head-down with all that camera gear on his head! Mike "Michigan" Sandberg attended as well and is now freeflying.
A casual speed competition for both the slowest and fastest fallrates was organized for those interested. An Air Blade Swooping Course was set up in an alternate landing area and a competition was held on the morning of November 16.
Charles Bryan, the main organizer of the festival, invited a core group of the best freeflyers for 10-way dives throughout the week. They followed a more relaxed pace of 4-5 jumps per day compared to the 10 jumps per day they did last year.
For the first 10-way jumps, Olav flew in the center and set the fallrate for establishing a no contact round. Then, on following dives, Olav was in the center and pirouetting to slap hands with those holding their slots in the no contact round.
Eli, from the FlyBoyz Team, commented that the skydiving was better this year because they, as a group, found a medium fallrate. Eli must remember to fall faster and Charles concentrates to fall a little slower. Last year the fallrate was so slow that Charles flopped his legs forward and backward in order to keep his fallrate slow enough to stay up with the 10-way.
Also, the exits were better. Everyone huddled tightly and presented the linked formation better to the relative wind. In other words, they didn't just fall over to the head-down orientation, they immediately presented their heads to the relative wind. This kept the fallrate faster. Then, as the hill finishes, the linked formation could be allowed to relax and expand more comfortably.
The core 10-way also did "race track" and "fleet" or "flocking" dives. In the race track, two flyers acted as pylons for other flyers to fly around. During the fleet dives, Olav set the base and the rest of the group would set up facing him. Once this was established, Olav would begin backing up and curving his flight path at the same time with the group following him. The group felt that the energy of covering so much sky was so incredible that they did a number of these dives.
This year, load organizers were available for those not participating in the core 10-way group. Load Organizers included Sebastion (of France), Omar Alhegelan, and Shaylan Allmen. Sebastion primarily worked with the large population of French freeflyers while Omar and Shaylan worked with other festival participants. I've seen videos of the French group regularly making 8-way and larger dives themselves.
Many of the freeflyers attending the festival were participating in 4-way and larger formations. (In fact, a 23-way head-down was organized.)
In general, I didn't think the skills were sufficient for bigger ways. I saw a number of zoo loads on the video screen mostly due to the fact that one or more freeflyers couldn't control their level and proximity very well. Also, failing to follow the slow and smooth principle commonly expressed when doing any type of RW, exaggerated the problems.
However, there were good big way dives as well. A typical big way drill was for each pair of 2 people opposite one another to cross the center and go to the position on the opposite side. This drill works best for an even number of people in the group such as for a 4 or 6-way.
The Flower Formation was a common formation included in big way dirt dives. To form the flower formation, all participants, all head-down, place one hand (all right hands or all left hands) to the center of the formation taking grips.
I was impressed to see one group of skilled freeflyers dirt diving something very similar to one of Tom Piras's Skydive 101 4-way drills. They formed a no contact 4-way round which they called a "camp fire" then two opposite people make a 360 degree pirouette and then the other two do the pirouettes. This was done also with the opposite people making cartwheel transitions. This group did mention that they were actually referring to the Skydive 101 video for ideas on training dives.
The freeflyers preferred the Skyvan and a popular exit was with 3-ring cover grips or arm grips and to launch into a head-down star. It tips over naturally into the head-down orientation much like a badminton birdie. This formation can be launched with everyone having grips on the shoulders of their partners or with everyone having the same hand free with the other hand gripping the 3-ring covers. Many freeflyers prefer the one hand free method. I found that with the one hand free method, the formation would begin to rotate. However, experienced freeflyers claimed that if the heads are kept level with respect to the relative wind the formation will not rotate. To stop a formation from rotating, Rob Mahaffey from Z-Airtime bends and raises the knee of the leg toward which he is rotating.
Another favorite exit for the freeflyers especially the camera flyers was hanging from the Skyvan bar below the ramp. There is a technique for getting into this position without falling off. Firstly, use an underhand grip on the bar. This means that as you lay on the ramp you will rotate your thumbs outward and take grips on the bar with the two small fingers facing one another. Then, you slide your body forward curling around the bar. The object is to stay as tight as possible to avoid having the body sling out as you roll over to the hanging position. Your objective is to try as much as possible to lower your body into position. You'll still need upper body strength but not nearly as much as you would need if you don't follow these tips!
Women at the freefly festival organized "Chick" ways. Those acting as organizers included Wendy Smith, Stefania Martinengo, Kama Mountz, and Stephanie Greathouse. The briefing included safety issues such as verifying that everyone had a Dytter or Time-Out and that they knew how to break-off. A 2-tier break-off with first tier breaking at 5K and rest at 4K was suggested. Also, at breakoff, it was pointed out that it's a good idea to accelerate your fallrate. If you just start backing away, you may simply run into someone behind you. For the exits, the less experienced can hang onto the back packs of the inside flyers when launching a star formation.
To start off, the chick way was organized as one big group and then, after several dives, it broke down into smaller groups to allow for better learning and opportunity for better and safer dives.
Kama Mountz of Arizona Freeflight is compiling an article for Parachutist about women in freeflying.
Adrian does not want a premature opening and he has 2 closing loops on his main. That's right, his pin is held in place by two closing loops! Adrian, also suggests that when closing a Javalin harness and container system, the right flap and then the left flap should be closed (not left then right as described in the manual). With this closing sequence, the tuck flap can be tucked between the left and right flaps.
Knut closes the final flap of his rig, which I think is a teardrop if I remember correctly, by pulling the closing loop downward from the top through the grommet and placing the pin in between the flaps. This way, it is less likely that the pin could be accidentally knocked out. Knut uses a pull-out deployment system with a straight pin.
During the festival, the freefly coaches were also busy coaching students and I had the opportunity to listen to some of their briefings.
One coach works with a student practicing an exercise in which one pushes another. In this exercise, a student practices maintaining stability. To maintain your stability, use relaxation in the body when you are pushed so that the energy of the pushing is absorbed and not transferred across your body. If you are stiff, the push or any collisions would upset your stability and cause a loss of balance.
Another coach reviews what he's looking for in a good cartwheel transition. He looks for his student to stay on heading, that his student finishes the movement immediately without buffeting, and that there is no horizontal translation.
He prefers performing a head-down Daffy with a wide leg stance, i.e., the legs are positioned 45 degrees away from the mid-line of the body. Ron uses his front leg to side slide. Abduct the right leg to slide right and vice versa. Students, when learning the head-down Daffy tend to turn-out the back leg positioning that foot angled towards the body's mid-line.
Yet another coach cautions that when doing the head-down running exercise that it's important to not run too fast. If you move the legs too fast, then you don't get to experience compensating for your leg position and you learn less.
Still another coach teaches fall rate control first in order to avoid the yo-yo phenomena with students.
One of his favorite dives to do with students is to start with a head-down launch. When the student tries to arch, he says "No No." This is the key to interlock the legs and make a 1/2 cartwheel together to upright and break. On this particular drill, he reports that the student tends to do better headup flying. Sometimes they'll redock the legs and make a half cartwheel to the head down orientation again.
Obviously, there are now many coaches among which you can choose. Rob Mahaffey from Z-Airtime recommended that a student should find an instructor his own size. This way, the instructor's flying is more compatible with the student.
|Meeting Marcos Oliveira from Brazil|
Marcos tells me how he learned to fly head-down. He started from a face down position and did a variation of the pendulum drill which I teach for learning to feel out the desired head-down orientation. Then, other freeflyers would let him follow their freefly dives and watch. He first practiced maintaining the same level as they and then moved on to practice proximity control once he could always stay level with them.
(The pendulum drill is a drill in which you make a half front loop from face down to back down and then a half back loop from back down to face down. By thoroughly practicing this action, you learn how to find the head-down orientation and how to use the arching and dearching in your body to keep balance in the head-down position.)
Now, Marcos is teaching others how to freefly. He teaches his students the back track before head-down flight. With this technique, students have the opportunity to 1) look back and see the sky and ground in the wrong places and 2) learn how it feels to have the wind on the back. Most likely, a freefly student already knows how the wind feels on their chest (probably from RW experience). However, they need to learn what it feels like when the wind is on their back. Once the back track is learned, they are ready to practice the pendulum drill and interpret the sensations that they feel in the pendulum drill.
Marcos had a few interesting tips as well. To stop an out-of-control head-down approach that is too fast, one can do a dead dog position or make a full cartwheel transition. During my own dives, I've noticed that it's much easier to make a head-down approach that's too fast while wearing a less floppy jumpsuit. In baggier suits, it's easier to throw on the brakes.
For an interesting exercise, he has his student exit first and then Marcos flies a head-down approach going under the student, up on opposite side in a sit, back to head-down while flying over top, and then he flies down and far from his student. Now, it is the student's turn to try the same exercise.
|The Head-down Daffy Position|
Side sliding in the head-down Daffy... A flyer can swivel the torso to face towards the open side of Daffy and backslide in order to side slide. To go the other way, simply change the leg position or move forward.
While in a head-down Daffy, Rob M. commented that it's better to keep your legs more angular. This will help slow your fallrate more than if you use straight legs. Also, the legs are freer to move for 3-D translation. Rob uses his "lazy boy" head-down position to fall even slower. This position is an upside-down chair with the arms pressing backwards to prevent backsliding.
Brian Germain pointed out that a women's pelvis is wider and thus allows for better turnout and access to the stronger leg muscles, the quads, while flying in a head-down Straddle. Men tend to have less turnout as their pelvis structure is narrower and they are forced more to use their weaker abductor leg muscles. Hence, men may prefer using a head-down Daffy and can achieve slower fallrates with their head-down Daffy than with a head-down Straddle. It may be possible that men are able to spread their legs further in a front and back position compared to spreading the legs to the sides.
A common head-down daffy error is letting the butt stick out and letting the pelvis rotate to the side. One of the freeflyers I met at the festival, stopped having problems with orbiting in the head-down Daffy when paying special attention to fly with the hips totally square. Another bad habit in the head-down Daffy is that freeflyers tend to arch.
|Over/Under transitional moves|
The Flyboyz refer to the various over/under moves as the following...
- Fish Bone:
- Two freeflyers face one another while headup. One passes underneath while making a half backward rotation to a head-down stance. Simultaneously, the other passes over making a half back flip. The move finishes with both fliers head-down and facing one another.
- Wish Bone:
- Two freeflyers face one another with one headup and the other head-down. The head-down flier passes underneath while making a half forward rotation to a headup stance. Simultaneously, the headup flier passes over making a half back flip. The move finishes with the fliers facing one another in the opposite orientation from which they started the move.
- Two freeflyers face one another with one headup and the other head-down. The headup flier passes underneath while making a half backward rotation to a head-down stance. Simultaneously, the head-down flier passes over making a half backward rotation to a headup stance. The move finishes with the fliers facing one another in the opposite orientation from which they started the move. (The opposite action would be referred to as "Rock the Cradle")
- Two freeflyers face one another while head-down. One flier passes underneath while making a half forward rotation to a headup stance. Simultaneously, the other flier passes over making a half backward rotation into a headup stance. The move finishes with both fliers headup and facing one another.
- 180 E-Twist:
- Two freeflyers face one another while head-down. One flier passes underneath making a 180 degree swivel action on the back and moving back into a head-down stance on the opposite side. Simultaneously, the other flier passes over making a half backward rotation into a headup stance. The move finishes with one flier head-down and the other headup while facing one another.
|Moves performed by Z-Airtime|
Psychedelic Cog: With both partners head-down, a cross handed grip is established. One partner makes a full cartwheel such that the arms uncross and cross again in the opposite way. The other partner remains head-down. Then, the other partner makes a full cartwheel. This move can be dirt dived by having the person who will cartwheel swiveling on their back on the floor with the other partner leaning over pretending that a wall represents the ground.
Sky Hook: With one partner headup and the other head-down, they hook one foot together. When trying this formation, be sure to flex the foot you're hooking once you're ready to dock.
In a Half Back Eagle transition (which is the same as the Flyboyz's Wish Bone move), two freeflyers face one another with one headup and the other head-down. The head-down flier passes underneath while making a half forward rotation to a headup stance. Simultaneously, the headup flier passes over making a half back flip to a head-down position. The move finishes with the fliers facing one another in the opposite orientation from which they started the move.
The Spock Block is a sequence of moves much like an RW block. The head-down partner spocks headup partner then makes a full cartwheel while the headup partner makes a full pirouette. Then, the head-down partner spocks the headup partner followed by a half back eagle transition.
Monkey Wheel: With one partner head-down and the other headup, the headup partner has a grip on the chest strap of the head-down partner with his other hand on the head of the head-down partner. Both partners front loop and stop in the same position. To start the front loop, the head-down partner accelerates his fallrate and the headup partner allows his legs to be taken backwards by the relative wind. During the rotation, it's important to keep the elbows bent and keep the torsos close to one another. To stop the rotation, the headup partner can use his chest strap grip to push the head-down partner's lower body backwards while the head-down partner also pushes his legs back.
Inverted Spock: One partner is head-down and the headup partner places his hand on the top of the head-down partner's head. The tendency is for the headup partner to accelerate their fallrate as they raise their hand towards the head. This causes them to go low. The headup partner must remember to fly with his legs spreading them some to press his hand gently on the head-down partner's head. (The Inverted Spock is a good follow-up formation after a Monkey Wheel.)
Monkey on my Back: In this exit move, the camera flyer forms a 69 dock on the legs of one headup partner. The other partner is head-down and docked on the back pack of the headup partner with just his head showing below the seat of the sitting partner.
A Monkey Totem is formed by making a sky hook with both partner's right or left feet hooked. The headup partner places his free foot on the inner thigh of the head-down partner's opposite leg.
911: Two freeflyers face one another while head-down. One flier passes underneath while making a half forward rotation to a headup stance. Simultaneously, the other flier passes over making a 1 1/2 FL into a headup stance. The move finishes with both fliers headup and facing one another.
Stair Step Formation: Both partners are head-down on same heading with one taking a grip on a leg of the other.
Two-Man Cartwheel: Both partners are head-down. One takes grips on the 3-ring covers of the other and, while linked together, they both perform a 360 degree cartwheel.
Spinner Foot Locker: The sitting person holds the head of the head-down flier between his feet and they spin.
|Jumpsuits and Fallrate|
At this year's freefly festival, the preferred fallrate in general was faster than last year. Plus, most of the partners whom I found to jump with were either heavier folk, and/or wore a tighter fitting suit or street clothes. Thus, on many jumps, I ended up wearing my jeans and sweat shirt.
One girl wore a baggy freefly suit and was almost practically in a no lift dive position along with other flyers who were spread out in comfortable head-down stances. When she was encouraged to wear jeans and shirt, she was very concerned about the shirt coming out of her jeans.
When I did have the opportunity to use my freefly suits, I made some discoveries. I found that my new Body Sport suit provided slightly better instantaneous change in fallrate while head-down than my 1985 Flite Suit. Both suits are the same size, however, the main body of my new Body Sport suit is constructed from a rougher heavier weight fabric. With the heavier fabric I noticed that there was some vibration as well. If I wear my huge Brand X suit to fly with flat RWers, the vibration is much more. So, I am beginning to wonder how much vibration (not flap) there can be before it will transfer to a video camera.
A number of my dives started with a Head-down linked launch from the Skyvan. On my first one, it was very cool that my back was towards the plane and I was viewing the DZ beyond the 2 faces of my freeflying partners. We had launched with both hands gripping at the shoulders of our partners. On my next dive, we launched a 4-way head-down linked star formation from the skyvan with the right hands gripping 3-ring covers of the partner to the right and the left hand free. While the first head-down star launch didn't rotate, this one rotated to our right. In another following 3-way head-down star exit with the right hands free, we started rotating to the left even faster. I pressed my left leg into the air in attempts to stop the spin but in the end, this only worsened the spin. Once the spinning starts, the tendency is for the legs to get pulled outward into a backward lean. Once in this leaned back position, pressing the left leg into the wind will serve to accelerate a spin while if the legs are straight above the torso in the proper position, pressing with that same leg will actually stop the spin.
Several ideas come to mind regarding initiating dives in groups larger than two. The dive plan should not involve moves or formations that cause loss of eye contact with the other partners. You probably shouldn't include over and under transitions or multilevel formations. Also, when a group is first established, fallrate issues will need to be solved. In other words, what fallrate will work best for the group? For example, during one of the dives I was on, the fallrate was too slow for one of its participants and he began to have problems with backsliding in his head-down position as he was spending a great deal of effort in trying to fall slower.
I included one solo drill for myself during the festival and that was to perform any type of 3-D rotations and to balance in various orientations of my choice while having my arms tucked tightly to my chest.
For the most part, I focused on 2-way dives and experienced my first "points" and sequential VRW.
With Marcos from Brazil, I experienced my first stable vertical compressed accordion. I was head-down and upon reaching my slot took my grip on his ankle. I felt his grip on my leg as I was looking out into the empty space in front of me with the scenery upside-down. It was surprisingly stable and there was no tension. It was very cool. Then, at the break, I pulled away too much and floated for an instant. Just dropping the grip is all that is necessary to break from a formation and it took me a couple formations to get this notion into my head. On a following dive, we made the vertical compressed accordion again and rotated the piece. And best of all, we stopped it rather than having it take off into a spin. It was very nice that Marcos flew with me and accepted the notion of working to fly very slow and smooth. Any over amping would have certainly caused the piece to go into a spin and tear apart. As I note that we took maybe nearly half the dive for this piece turn, I come to appreciate what it means to repeat RW blocks and piece turns to really get to know how they feel and to reach a point where a team can do them quickly.
I experienced my first real VRW sequential dives with Chris Rimple from freestyle team Nitros when he takes a break from training. We launch into the head-down position with right hand grips, break, and then a left hand shake. We both rotate headup and make two Fish Bones with me going over top on the first one and him over the top on the second one. Then, we make a bunch of wheels. To finish, I'm upright and swiveling around to make a compressed accordion with him while he's head-down with us both on the same heading. Just before taking grips the Dytters go off and I see Chris arch backwards with his head disappearing taking off into his track. We repeated the dive making refinements and for the first time, I found myself concentrating again like I had for freestyle training. "Do this action here, finish like that, accelerate fallrate here..."
As I continue to explore the over/under transitions at the festival, I discover that there are differing techniques for implementing them. I note that for an over/under transition to be successful, both partners have to make their half loop rotations at about the same rate. If one completes their half loop quickly and the other slowly, there will be a significant difference in levels at the finish of the move.
Later in the week, Brad Chatellier, from team Mad Style, shows up and we do more sequential dives. We launch into the head-down orientation with a right hand shake and then do a variation of the E-twist in which I go under moving to upright and Brad makes a half front loop. Then, we make a variation of a Wish Bone in which I move under Brad and he moves over me rotating forward into a head-down position. In this move, I need to move forward more aggressively to get under Brad if he will move quickly into the head-down position. If Brad moves more slowly into the head-down position, then I need to trap more air beneath me so we stay proximate and, as Brad moves head-down, he has a instant where he can backslide just enough to insure that I wont be straight below him as I go head-down. My rotation from back down to head-down will cause me to move in his direction somewhat. I think the slower rotations give more opportunity to control relativity during the over/under transition. In my viewpoint, both partners work to stay relative continuously during the over/under transition. In another viewpoint expressed at the festival, the person going under initiates and does all the travel and the person going over the top simply performs the trick as quickly as possible.
After the over/under transitions, Brad and I perform what I could call the head-down daffy cartwheel transition block. Both of us are head-down, I dock on Brad's foot while he is in a head-down daffy, he makes a cartwheel transition and then I redock on his foot. Then, we change roles. When being the lower person, it's necessary to avoid the tendency of looking up and bending at the waist. This action would cause the freeflyer to fall onto his back and slow the fallrate spoiling the sequential and causing a possible collision.
We finish the dive with me head-down and making a spock (by positioning the arm forward of my torso to touch his head) on Brad while he's headup. On my first time in trying this, I wasn't close enough and the reach was awkward, however, on the second time, I was tight and the formation was stable. To make a nice spock with the arm forward, it's good to be so close that you almost feel that you're about to make a kiss pass!
In another dive, we try docking the hands together while face to face in the head-down position. We discover that are differing arm lengths can be an issue. Brad's arms are much longer than mine. Hence, I must widen my arms to take the grips while he must draw his arms in to take the grips. This means relying entirely on the legs to make adjustments to maintain a constant fallrate with no tension between us. Then, we try a Joker formation in which I'm headup and he's head-down and we take single hand grips. Just below the grip, I fell for the temptation in raising my arm to take the grip. This only served to slightly accelerate my fallrate causing me to drop away from him. One must be cautious to avoid this very same temptation when performing an inverted spock.
For our last 2-way together, we start with a cool back diving exit. As we ride the hill backwards, we look at each other gradually going into a head-down position. Then, we make a compressed accordion piece turn with me headup. It started to rotate faster and I abruptly leaned forward to stop it. With two people docked facing in opposite directions (with the C.G. in between the two partners), initiating a very gentle forward movement is all it takes to turn the piece. It can be stopped with a backsliding movement. Next, we face off while head-down and each of us takes turns making a front loop. We finish the dive with carving.
As yet another surprise, the Z-Airtime members invite me on some 2-way dives. "Have a look at our Destination Xtreme Tour Stop #2 jumps and choose from the menu!" So off the end of the sky ramp I go looking over backwards making a 69 dock with Rob, who's headup for my first ever point on the hill. It felt neat, fun, and weird. Then, I spock him and we make 1/2 cartwheel transitions and he spocks me. Actually, there are two different varieties of the spock. At a slower fallrate, it's better to fly almost a kiss pass and reach forward with the hand to your partner's helmet. At a faster fallrate, it's better to fly almost straight over your partner and to reach a hand over your head to touch his head. Even though our level and proximity control felt loose to me, the points still happened--we are both skilled flyers. It was amazing to me to actually experience a relaxed dive with points.
With Brian Germain, I get to try the Monkey Wheel and Inverted Spock. We launch into a head-down star and then I swivel to headup maintaining my grip on his chest strap. I don't have my angles to the windflow correct and went back head-down to try the transition again which then was successful. But I had to take my hand off his head and then put it back. (This experience inspired me to do the solo drill previously mentioned.) The Monkey Wheel went quickly and easily. In the Inverted Spock, I spread my legs some in response to feeling myself start to fall away from his head. This way, I was applying some pressure on his head and the formation felt really stable.
With Z-Airtime, I had the chance to try the Sky Hook with me in the head-down position. Rob exclaimed that I would be the third person ever to do a Sky Hook if we got it. So, I would fly head-down and close to a no contact 69. I then descended and swiveled my legs to the head-down Daffy position to present my foot. After a few tries covering the span of 3 jumps (which included other formations too), I realized that my descent rate would pick up still more upon swiveling my legs to the Daffy and thus our feet barely missed the hook repeatedly. If I had to do again, I would go for the no contact 69 while in a head-down Daffy to insure that my fallrate was ideal and then go for the Sky Hook. After this, I realized that during one of my head-down Daffy cartwheel transition blocks with Brad earlier, I presented my foot to Brad and I sensed myself falling too fast and that's how I made the mistake of bending in the waist spoiling the performance of the block.
On one last freefly jump at the festival, I was flying headup for my head-down partner to dock in a 69 formation with me. When he docked, I still had a slight backward lean from my efforts to adjust relativity and thus couldn't take my grips on his legs.
I included of few of these in my festival jumps.
An observation dive is a good time to try out a new jumpsuit while insuring that you don't spoil other people's dive as you familiarize yourself with the flying characteristics of a new suit. (On one of my 4-way dives, another person tried a new much baggier suit hoping to not fall too fast as before and ended up backsliding thus spoiling to 4-way sequential that was planned.)
An observation dive can be a good time to practice a skill too. For example, on one of my dives, I decided to fly relative while continuously holding one hand in front of me pointing at the fliers in the group. While holding this hand forward for more than 15 seconds, I became conscious that I was using my opposite hand in such a way to pull on the air from behind to maintain my stability.
Some of my observation dives have raised questions in my mind about how to video a dive for educational purposes. (I am seriously looking to buy a Sony PC-7.) During one dive, one person was headup and falling base for 2 others to fly head-down and dock to form a 3-way vertical compressed accordion. I flew level with the base who was suddenly moving from a sit to a complete standup repeatedly. The poor lad thought he was helping his partners to dock but the fallrate changes were too drastic. While head-down, I was literally watching his body position and expanding and contracting my body literally with him. Fortunately, I was wearing my baggy Body Sport suit in which I was able to command rapid changes in fallrate, particularly for slowing each time he sat. On video, it would have looked like the 2 head-down fliers were idiots while the headup person remained still. I realized my action here would have been inappropriate if I was videoing for the dive debrief. I, also, realized that if I just burned a hole straight down, the fallrate changes would have been too drastic to keep them in frame all the time.
On another 2-way dive that I observed, "Joe" and "Jane" were attempting a 69 dock. "Jane" corked and last the fallrate, seriously floating--(a very good reason for avoiding flying especially over people on a first dive together). The vertical separation was so great that it was not clear exactly where the meeting place between the two would be next. An experienced camera flyer said the best way to keep both people in frame would be to film from below. However, for educational purposes this video would be hard to interpret with just a blue featureless sky in the background.
At the conclusion of the festival, Bryan Burke reported that 152 freeflyers registered for the festival and 3000 freefly jumps were made throughout the week.