Five years ago the U.S. played only a token part in the European sport of sky diving. Today from Alaska to Florida there are 110 sky diving clubs, and good, stable free falls like that performed by Bob McDonnell of the Batavia, N.Y. Genesee Sky Divers (right) are becoming a common sight. Five years ago in this country the ability to do a single figure eight while dropping at 120 miles an hour was the mark of a master. Today, in competition, the jumper does not even know what maneuver he must execute until he is falling through thin air. The officials 6,600 feet below will uncover a panel instructing him to perform one of three different maneuvers involving six full circles and three complete changes of direction, and then a back-flip, all within 30 seconds before pulling his rip cord at 2,500 feet.

Using the drab, conventional parachutes readily available five years ago, U.S. pioneers of the budding sport were lucky to hit a 200-foot circle from 2,500 feet UP. Today, with the bright, new open-gore chutes shown on these pages, a good man can steer himself to a target half the size. Using the very latest dirigible models, a champion can hit within 15 feet of target center five times out of five.