“The majority of drop zones don’t have Twin Beeches or other 10-place aircraft. Every weekend, more people dangle from Cessna struts than bunch inside small door Beeches. Still, large stars and fast 10-mans have received such wide acclaim that people on small drop zones sometimes feel they can’t do good relative work because they can’t get ten or more people up at the same time.
It’s a quantitative view of relative work—bigger, faster, better. Certainly big stars and fast stars require good relative work, but there is also a qualitative approach to skydiving which holds that the sophistication, diversity and execution of a dive are more important than how big or fast it is.
People limited to four players by their Cessna can enjoy nearly unlimited challenge by using ever more difficult and diverse sequences. Sometimes by just changing grips. Sometimes by breaking and reforming. Sometimes by breaking to pairs and redocking. The idea is to fill the free fall with as much flying as is possible. Whatever your experience level, sequential offers a chance to learn, a chance to expand the limits of your experience.”
-Matt Farmer, from Parachutist, January 1976
Most of the photos that have appeared in this monthly pictorial have been dug out of boxes, file cabinets and basements by USPA staff. If you would like to contribute to “Back-Tracking,” please send photos to or reach out to Luke Jones at (540) 604-9740 ext. 303.
Teamwork and coordination remain important all the way to the landing area. Photo by Joni Anderson.
This Cessna 182 load doesn’t need more than three skydivers—and a camera flyer, of course—to get creative in the air.
Two pairs of jumpers fly towards each other to complete their 4-way formation. Photo by Carl Boenish.
As seen toward the bottom right of this photo, Skydivers have always used cutting-edge methods to attach their camera gear to their helmets, even when they forget to put on shoes.
“Orville” keeps quiet while cameraman Mike Lee flies in to surprise an unsuspecting Steve Scott. Photo by Mike Lee.
Contrary to prevailing opinions on equipment, more does not always mean better.
Dave Rucker, Bill England, Richard Whitehill and Mike Cristy of the Austin Parachute Team come together in a zipper formation during a demo jump over Austin, Texas. Photo by Doug Feick.
José Melendez (black helmet) and Henry Schlottenmier exit a Cessna 182 over the Pepperell Sport Parachute Center, now Skydive Pepperell, in Massachusetts. Photo by David DelPoio.
While many things have changed over 75 years of USPA, there’s much that has not. Photo by M. Anderson Jenkins.