United States Parachute Association > Experienced Skydivers > SIM > Section 6-1

6-1 Group Freefall (Relative Work)

A. What is relative work?

  1. Group skydiving, traditionally called “relative work,” may be described as the intentional maneuvering of two or more skydivers in proximity to one another in freefall.
  2. The concept of group skydiving is the smooth flow and grace of two or more jumpers in aerial harmony.
    1. Mid-air collisions and funneled formations are not only undesirable but can be dangerous.
    2. The colliding of two bodies in flight can cause severe injuries or death.
    3. The greatest danger exists when jumpers lose sight of each other and open independently, which may set the stage for a jumper in freefall to collide with an open canopy.
    4. Even after opening, there is the possible danger of canopy collisions if proper safety procedures are not followed.

B. Training and procedures

  1. Before training for group freefall, each student should complete all the training and advancement criteria through Category F of the USPA Integrated Student Program, Section 4 of this manual.
  2. Initial training for group freefall skills should begin as soon as the student completes Category F of the ISP—
    1. to maintain interest in skydiving
    2. to encourage relaxation in the air
    3. to develop coordination
    4. to establish participation in group activities
    5. to encourage the development of safe attitudes and procedures
  3. Initial training should begin with no more than two jumpers—the trainee and a USPA instructional rating holder.
  4. A recommended training outline for beginning group freefall skills is included in Categories G and H of the ISP.

C. Breakoff

  1. The minimum breakoff altitude should be—
    1. for groups of five or fewer, at least 1,500 feet higher than the highest planned deployment altitude in the group (not counting one camera flyer)
    2. for groups of six or more, at least 2,000 feet higher than the highest planned deployment altitude in the group (not counting a signaling deployment or camera flyers)
    3. higher than these recommendations for the following:
      1. groups with one or more jumpers of lower experience
      2. jumpers with slower-opening or faster-flying canopies
      3. jumpers engaging in freefall activities that involve a fall rate faster than belly to earth terminal velocity
      4. jumps involving props, toys, or other special equipment, (signs, banners, smoke, flags, hoops, tubes, items released in freefall, etc.)
      5. jumps taking place over an unfamiliar landing area or in case of an off-field landing (bad spot recognized in freefall)
      6. other special considerations
  2. At the breakoff signal or upon reaching the breakoff altitude, each participant should:
    1. turn 180-degrees from the center of the formation
    2. flat track away to the planned deployment altitude (flat tracking will achieve more separation than diving)
  3. Opening:
    1. The pull should be preceded by a distinct wave-off to signal jumpers who may be above.
    2. During the wave-off, one should look up, down and to the sides to ensure that the area is clear.
    3. The low person has the right-of-way, both in freefall and under canopy.

D. Other references

  1. See SIM Section 6-2, “Freeflying, Freestyle Skydiving, and Skysurfing Recommendations” for information about group flying in vertical orientations.
  2. See SIM Section 6-4, “Night Jump Recommendations” for guidance on jumping in groups at night.