reply to post by timewalker
Wow, TimeWalker. Your story made my palms sweat. That is just an incredible story, what a powerful experience that must have been.
I can actually really relate to your story as I have jumped out of many, many aircraft of all sorts; helicopters, C130s, C141s and dirigibles.
I never got used to it and it really just got scarier and scarier until I exited the military. I had some bad jumps so that probably did not help.
Also, we had an entire battalion of parachute packers dedicated to packing our chutes so there was never an opportunity to pack your own. On top of
that I was a medic so while in garrison I had to pull drop-zone coverage and I am just a worry-wart by nature so standing there worrying about these
guys breaking ankles or worse probably helped to crank up the anxiety as well.
I should add that just watching History Channel's 'Dog Fights' makes my palms almost squirt sweat. Exhilarating, but my adrenals don't like it as much
as my hind-brain.
Anyway, so it could be just a total fear and anxiety rollercoaster at times. I had a really bad jump in the Southern U.S. that reminds me a little of
your story in terms of what one perceives to be true about a situation while the reality of it is entirely different.
I will try and describe it. So we are cruising along in our C130 along with other birds of the same type also full of the rest of our Battalion. It is
a short trip from GR to wherever we are going. Within like 20 minutes we go down to nap of the earth so the ride gets really rocky and we are bucking
and rocking; dudes are puking. Not rainbows.
We get the signal to stand up ( I will never forget this one )....
Wait. Need to digress. I am 18 years old at the time. I have a girl back home and I am being very clever. Because I have speed taped a sony walkman
with an external mic to my rig. My plan being to record the whole thing for her and really score big time on leave (smahht Unicorn).
So you need to know this.
So we stand up (I could die of laughter and so would you if you could see what it takes to stand 30 dudes up with their parachute rigs and all the
weapons and rucks and stuff...crazy time) We hook up, we shuffle forward. I turn on the mic and check for the little green light on the walkman. In
the recording you can hear me ask the jumpmaster to come back and help me fiddle with the safety wire on my static line.
We are just getting a beating down there at 5-600 feet. Just beaten up. Dudes are whooping and hollering. We are supposed to pop up to 800 at least
for the drop. They aren't really allowed to green light us at less than 500.
So I don't know what is going on up front but in all the noise and ruckus we get the green light and as we are pushing forward (Go, Go, Go!) the
freaking bird sort goes up and to its left (had to put that together, palms sweating now) and we are out into the blue.
So later, after this whole fracas is over, I get part of the story from the dudes who saw it from the ground...
There was incredible wind at the drop zone. The birds were having a terrible time getting it together at the altitude they needed to be at and the
guys said that they were all over the place in terms of attitude and altitude.
So we essentially shoot out the door like a line of pinballs. I am so focused on the stupid walkman that I don't even check my canopy. I turn the
thing on as it had been turned off somehow as I exited the aircraft.
I start right away to talk in to the thing,
"Hi, it's me. Just jumped out of the airplane and I'm up here and...I'm...fallin'prettyfu!$infast............!
I realize I'm freakin' fallin' way too damn fast so THEN I check the canopy and I have a 'Mae West' (had to be told this by the medics on the ground
as all I could see was a badly fouled canopy) and all my air is escaping out either side of the stupid parachute so I start shaking my risers
frantically and I actually slip the Mae West.
Back to the ground...
Our CWO sees this from the Ambulance and he tells me later he starts running across the DZ because he knows whoever that is with the malfunction is
gonna get creamed (literally). We had only come out the plane at 500 or maybe even less. He said that just as I had shook out the Mae West another
'chutist slipped under me and took my last 50 feet of air and I had already built up some damn good momentum.
So there I am. Everything is in slomo so I can actually see my chute correct itself so I can't understand when I don't catch air but actually drop
like a stone. So now I am really plummeting and all I can really do is prepare for impact.
I actually pulled it together and managed to do a PLF (parachute landing fall). To this day I can't believe what happened next. The freaking PLF
works! And I go tumbling and rolling across the DZ like I have been shot out of a 'Sac-a-potatoes' cannon, wrapping myself like a mummy in all the
So I am laying there looking up at the sky realizing that my arms are pinioned by my side really tightly and I start to struggle as the adrenaline
REALLLY starts to kick in. Up runs the CO from another company and he asks if I am all right and I just ask him to get me out of the suspension lines.
He pops his knife and cuts me out like I am in a cacoon. The adrenaline and now exhilaration sort of cause my whole body to become erect and standing
like I am spring loaded and the first thing I see is the CWO mentioned earlier running up to me from about 50 feet or more away and I say, 'Hey,
Chief!', and he looks and says, "Oh, it's just you". And he waves dismissively and walks away (I had a rep at that time).
All I got was some bursitis in my shoulder and some poison sumac. But you can imagine that for a worrier like me that just made every other jump worse
and worse. I had three other malfunctions after that one over the years. I have never jumped again.
Here is sort of my moral of the tale. I hated every one of those damned jumps. And as I said it got progressively worse. I almost had to be dragged on
to the first helicopter 'Blast'.
But I knew that if I did not jump that they would take me away from my 'family' that I loved. I could not imagine not being with my guys so I made
every damn jump and then some. Probably the scariest, even considering the accidents, was once when I got stuck in the door on the red light at night
far from the continental U.S. and had to wait while they racetracked so they could get the poor medic (and of course, the JM) on to the DZ. Very
lonely. But if I quit I would never see my guys again and that just could not be. So I had to deal with that awful fear every time. But it was worth
every freaking nano-second.
edit on 28-5-2011 by Frater210 because: Hoo Ah.