Exiting an Open Accordion

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Brought to you by AXIS Flight School Instructor Brianne Thompson at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Assistance provided by Sandy Radsek and Kim Winslow of Arizona Overdrive. Air photos by Niklas Daniel; ground photos by Mark Kirschenbaum. For more information visit axisflightschool.com or search “Axis Flight School” on Facebook.


Exiting an open accordion (formation F in the 4-way dive pool) appears simple but is deceptively difficult. These instructions show the exit from a Twin Otter, the most commonly used plane for competitions.

Placement in the Door
The inside flyers (inside center and point) set up with their left legs forward and their right legs back. They keep their left shoulders down and their right shoulders high and stacked above their left shoulders so they can present their bodies properly to the relative wind. The inside center should be slightly lower in the door than the point and should have his shoulders slightly outside of the plane.

The outside flyers (outside center and tail) set up with their right feet on the edge of the door and their left legs free in the wind. They should focus on presenting their hips to the wind. Both hold onto the bar, palms up, with both hands. The tail flyer should be a bit lower in the door than the outside center.

Once the outside flyers are in position, the inside center takes grips on the tail flyer and the outside center. The point grips the outside center with his left hand, and his right hand remains free. The jumpers should take high grips (on the biceps), which for this exit are most effective when taken at the very top of the bicep gripper near the shoulder.

At the moment of exit, the outside flyers will let go of the bar and drop their hands onto the grips. The outside flyers concentrate on getting their left sides up into the relative wind, while the inside flyers concentrate on getting their left sides down into the relative wind. To make it easier to move to the next point, the team needs to launch the formation at a 45-degree angle from the plane, with the point closest to the plane and the tail farthest away. To achieve this, the tail launches away from the plane and presents her hips to the wind.

The jumpers should establish good eye contact with their cross partners during the exit count and throughout the skydive. Cross-referencing is key to successful formation skydiving.

Helpful Hints
As the formation leaves the airplane and begins to fly, the center flyers should keep their elbows high and not allow their hands to move away from the center. This will keep the formation tight and prevent the point and tail flyers from stretching too far away from the center of the formation.


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