Jump Week, Part 5: In which I do a parachute landing fall and wish I hadn’t
This is my last post on jumping, I swear. At this point, the sequence isn’t clear in my mind. I think we did two jumps on Wednesday and one on Thursday, but it might have been the other way around. One thing is clear.
It makes you tired. Just as much as running around all day, doing PT and pushups and getting dunked by the Swing Landing Trainer.
For the combat jump, you get the added bonus of carrying a rucksack filled with . . . something heavy, and a dummy M16 rifle strapped to your side and leg. And there’s really no other place to put the rucksack except right in front/between your legs. This makes walking a challenge. Talk about shuffling to the door.
How much the rucksack actually weighed, I couldn’t say. I remember hearing everything from 35 pounds, to fifty, to sixty five. Who knows? Point was, it was heavy. After you jump and your parachute deploys, you need to pull the strap that’s holding the ruck to you, so it dangles below you, like this:
One, you don’t want to land with a ruck between your legs. Two, that M16? Strapped to your leg? You need to reach down and undo the straps. This way, you won’t break your leg when you land.So far, so good. Rucksack unleashed? Check. M16 un-strapped? Yep. And I actually did a parachute landing fall this time. A nice one, too. But I did it right into the M16. For about three seconds, I thought I had broken my arm; it hurt that much. They don’t give you Airborne wings after only three jumps. For those three seconds, I was crushed.
But I didn’t hear anything snap or crack. And after a moment, I could move my arm again. But I also had to lug not only my parachute, but the rucksack and rifle as well back to the assembly point.
Still, it wasn’t all bad. On my last Hollywood jump, we were shuffling to the door, I was inching closer, four, then three, then two, then . . . none. The jump master threw his arm out, halting me. The plane needed to circle around and take another pass over the drop zone.
And I got to stand in the door. It’s one thing to be deep in the dark cavern of the hold, letting momentum and a highly-motivated jump master help you from the plane. It’s quite another to stand in the open cargo door, feet on the edge and braced to jump.
I made my last jump and there was nothing left to do. Except attend graduation and make a special trip to Military Clothing Sales.
To be continued…