Make It Happen
by Jan Meyer
RW is relative work. You jump with others. Their skills are different than yours. Skills are acquired through practice. You must maintain and improve your skills. Don't let them deteriorate through non-use. Some skills may be harder for you to acquire or maintain than others. How do you acquire new skills, maintain and improve other skills, jump with jumpers with different skills and different goals and still make it happen?
Whether you "keep it simple" or "challenge the sky-gods with difficult formations" you still have a make it happen problem. Use the "get their money" rule to get folks to the dirt dive on time and with their jumpsuits. Use PAKSS (puzzle-angles-keys-secret stuff) to dirt dive the first four times. To paraphrase Guy Manos, PAKS is:
PUZZLE: Go through the dive, assign slots, show transitions. Present the big picture. The idea is to show everyone the formations or puzzle of the dive. Draw out the dive and show everyone the picture and point out their slot. Stress visualization. Visualize the formation.
ANGLES: Everyone has to "bend over and spread it out" for a realistic picture. Use creepers for small groups. Find your clone. Know his name. Know your base person, no matter what wave you're in. Know your distances and orientation from the centerpoint. Just because you have a grip, doesn't mean you're in your slot. (See "Reach for the Stars" )
KEYS: Go through the dive and see who is in the best position to feel and see a stable and complete formation. Use eye contact as keys. Someone on the far side, looking at you in the base, means that that side is complete. Don't wait for shakes to go through a few people. Use eye contact to initiate transitions and shakes to propagate that information.
SECRET STUFF: These are the tricks you learn from experience and other jumpers. Secret stuff is situational dependent. It comes with experience and how well you can remember your experience.
You can also use some other concepts to make it happen on your dives.
NOWNESS: This was coined by Ted Wagner. It means "make it happen, NOW!" As soon as you're in the air, you're late. Get to your slot, now, faster and faster.
LEVELIDITY: Compatible fall rates give you and your group levelidity. Individual jumpers and pieces must all fall at a rate comfortable for everyone. Make this rate as fast as possible. Demand that everyone on the dive have a fast fall jumpsuit. Make no exceptions.
PROXIMITY: Know where the centerpoint is on each formation. Point it out and name the people in those surrounding slots. Everyone else should be looking at these people during the formation. At most, someone can quickly glance away and then back to the centerpoint. Your attention should be towards the centerpoint throughout most of the dive. Stress "legs out, legs out, drive towards the center" during transitions, rounds, zippers, etc.
SYNCHRONICITY: Timing. Get everyone to turn at the right rate. Everyone should stop at the next slot simultaneously on small loads, regardless of how much of a turn you have. This can become a key to move on to the next point for advanced jumpers. Larger loads require jumpers to concentrate on a team effort. Quadra-diamonds rotating 360º to a redocked quadra-diamond must have each wing pass the centerpoint together, then the tails, then the other wings and finally the points return to the center simultaneously. You must watch your clone diamond for turn rate, as well as for levelidity, and keep a peripheral view on the side diamonds.
End a dirt dive with a make it happen attitude. Get everyone to visualize the dive happening perfectly in real time. Then go and make it happen.
Originally published in Sport Parachutist's Safety Journal V1, #6 Mar.-Aug. 1989.
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