Whether you’re getting ready for the World Parachuting Championships to return to the US in 2016, having a birthday party at the iFly Indoor Skydiving, or just hanging out with friends at the drop zone, these cookies are guaranteed to raise some spirits. This project will show you how to make Formation Skydiving (FS) cookies. This is also known as Relative Work or belly flying.
Step 1: Gather Ingredients and Supplies
- Sugar Cookie Dough
- Cookie Icing
- Parchment Paper (or wax paper)
- Aluminum Foil
- Transparent Tape
- Cardboard Box
- Formation Skydiver Cookie Cutter (This can be 3D printed with the attached file.)
- Rolling Pin
- Cookie Sheet
- Mini Scraper (available at Amazon)
- Utility Knife
I’m not the best at making cookies. You will probably want to read through The Complete Guide to Decorating Cookies from King Arthur Flour before going further in this Instructable.
Step 2: Make a Formation Skydiver Cookie Cutter
There are lots of cookie cutters available out there, but I’ve never seen a skydiving cookie cutter. I have noticed that some of the 3D printing model repositories have a variety of different cookie cutters available, so I thought I would make my own skydiver cookie cutter. Attached is the cutter I designed.
If like me, you don’t own a 3D printer, you can have one printed locally through 3D Hubs. Just click the Print with 3D Hubs button below and 3D Hubs will find a number of printing businesses in your local area. You can pick it up or have it shipped to you. This cookie cutter cost me less than $8 and was ready to pick up in a couple days.
If you’re concerned about food safety and 3D printing, check out 10 things you need to know about 3D printing and food safety. While it is recommended to use FDA approved filament for items like flatware, cups, and plates, it isn’t necessary for cookie cutters given how little they come in contact with the food.
Step 3: Cut Out and Bake the Cookies
I used the pre-made sugar cookie dough from the grocery. If you have a favorite sugar cookie recipe, go ahead and use that. It is important to have some all purpose flour around to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin as you roll it out flat.
The Complete Guide to Cookie Decorating recommends rolling out the dough on parchment paper. This makes it much easier to transfer to the cooking sheet and bake. Be sure to roll the dough pretty thin. If you make thicker cookies they will expand as they cook and the arms will merge with the head and the legs will stick together.
I didn’t have any parchment paper, so I used some wax paper. I found that it was easiest to work one cookie at a time. Then I would transfer the dough to the cooking sheet by flipping the paper upside down in the cooking sheet and peeling away the wax paper.
This is not the easiest cookie cutter to use according to The Complete Guide to Cookie Decorating because the arms and legs are smaller details that will cook faster. Be sure to check on your cookies as they cook to make sure you don’t burn the arms and legs.
The smaller details also makes it a little harder to get the excess dough from between the legs and between the arms and the head. The mini scraper was perfect for getting to this dough and getting it out of the cookie shapes.
Bake the cookies according to the recipe. I recommend baking in batches of 4 cookies at a time. We’re going to be making 4-way skydiving formations with them and this will keep the team together through the whole process.
Step 4: Make the Cookie Trays
While the cookies bake, get the cardboard box and the utility knife. Cut up the box so you have a section of cardboard that is 10 inches by 10 inches. This will serve as the base for our skydiving formation. You can make them wider as some formations are wider than others. Keep the height to 10 inches which will allow the aluminum foil to wrap around the top and the bottom. Be careful not to cut into your working surface. If you have a cutting mat, use it to protect your working surface.
Tear off some aluminum foil longer than the cardboard tray. Set it on the counter face down. Put the cardboard on top and roughly center it on the foil.
Fold up the bottom of the aluminum foil and tape it to the cardboard using the transparent tape. Turn the tray around and repeat for the top.
When folding in the sides it is easiest to crease the aluminum foil. If you make it slightly narrower at the loose end than the edge of the cardboard, it will tuck under the tray nicely. Then fold it up, similar to the top and bottom and tape in place. Repeat for the opposite side.
Depending on how much cookie dough you have, you will want to make more of these. The 16 oz tube of cookie dough I used was enough to make four formations. Remember to keep an eye on your cookies as you’re doing this though. You don’t want burnt arms and legs.
Step 5: Allow Cookies to Cool
When the coolies are finished baking, transfer them to the cookie trays you just made to allow them to cool. Be careful the oven and the baking sheet are hot.
There are specially made cooling racks for cookies to allow them to cool. I don’t have any of those and the aluminum foil covered cookie trays worked great.
The cookies should be allowed to cool for about 15 minutes.
Step 6: Decorate Your Cookies
I’m still new to decorating cookies. Feel free to change things up here and try out different frostings and icings as well as different techniques. Get creative!
I started by moving the cooled cookies to a sheet of wax paper. Turn them upside down so the side that was on the baking sheet is facing up. We’re going to decorate this side of the cookie leaving the pretty side of the cookie exposed on the bottom. (This is the only trick i know. My aunt who makes the best holiday cookies does this and her cookies always look great!)
What worked best for me was the ready-made Cookie Icing from the grocery. Start by making an outline of the area you want iced. Then fill in the outline. I kept going around the inside edge of the last bead of icing that I put down until I eventually got to the middle. Through this process it seemed appropriate given that this is how many 3D printers work as they build up material in their creations.
My favorite were the ones where I used different colors for the skydiver’s parachute container, jumpsuit, gloves, and helmet. Each one started as an outline and then I worked my way to the center adding more icing.
Allow the icing to sit and set up. It will take about 5 minutes for the icing to set up. This will fill in any gaps you had as you were filling in the outlines. Then it can take 1-4 hours for them to harden to the point where the cookies can be stacked in a tray.
(Note: I did try some frosting on some of the cookies. I wasn’t able to get the kind of detail that I wanted in these cookies. I also don’t have a good tool for smoothing the frosting on the cookies.)
If you are good at cookie decorating, check out some of the skydiving equipment makers and see if you can build different types of containers for your skydivers. There is the United Parachute Technologies Vector, SunPath Javelin, Rigging Innovations Talon or Curve, Mirage Systems G4, and Jump Shack Racer.
Step 7: Build Skydiving Formations
After allowing an hour for the icing to harden, move the cookies onto the trays made earlier. You can organize the cookies into different skydiving formations. 4-Way Formation Skydiving (FS) is one of the most popular competition disciplines in skydiving. This is a great place to start for ideas on how to organize your team.
For examples of different, start with the United Sport Parachute Association (USPA) Skydiver’s Competition Manual (SCM) available at http://www.uspa.org/Downloads. This is a large document. To find the formations scroll down to page 133 of the PDF file. Here you’ll find four pages of different 4-Way formations. If this is too much, there are 2-Way formations from the Collegiate Competition Rules starting on page 96.
If you’re still looking for ideas, check out Skydive TV and Blue Skies Magazine. Learn even more by watching the training videos from SDC Rhythm to learn more about the formations and how the professionals build them in the sky.
If you’re going to be taking these cookies to a party, like celebrating a birthday at an iFly vertical wind tunnel or sending them in a care package, you can use a dap of icing or frosting on the bottom of the cookies to hold them in place on the trays.
Step 8: Eat and Party
That’s it. You’ve got the most adrenaline packed cookies around. Have some fun.
And if you get hungry before the party starts, just turn those 4-Way formations into 3-Way formations. :-)