Jump School


Sergeant Major
MI.Net Member
Mar 20, 2004
I went through Jump School at Ft. Benning, GA, in MAY66. I was in 42nd Company, 23rd class. It was a 3wk. course, consisting of Ground Week, Tower Week, and Jump Week.

Ground week is alot of PT, getting yelled at, dropped for push-ups for every little infraction [real or imagined], running EVERYWHERE, and in between they're teaching you stuff. One of the first things they start teaching you is how to do a PLF [Parachute Landing Fall]. In the next 3wks., it'll seem like you've done THOUSANDS of these. You do PT. You learn about the T-10 parachutes. You run. You learn how to get in the harness properly. You do push-ups. You are suspended by the harness and taught how to work the risers to control the parachute. You get yelled at. You get put in an open parachute, laid on the ground in front of a giant wind machine, and dragged on the ground to teach you how to get out of the parachute. You get yelled at and told to do push-ups. Did I say we ran EVERYWHERE drill; ? Alot of people drop out the first week for various reasons. Some decide this isn't for them after all; some can't hang with the PT; Some can't take the harrassment.

Tower Week is still alot of PT, running, more PLFs, and getting yelled at, but the training has taken on a more serious and dangerous face. You're introduced to the 34 foot tower. This is a room that sits at the top of a tower. You get to it by climbing about 4 flights of stairs and enter it through the floor. It has a door on each side. It's supposed to be a facsimile of a plane fusilage. The purpose here is to teach you how to exit the door of a plane, with body posture being the important thing. When you exit the door, you're in a parachute harness that slides down a cable on a pulley. You're stopped at the bottom, taken out of the harness, and your exit is graded. You keep doing it until you do it right. The 34 foot tower is where there's going to be more dropouts. When you stand in the door, instead of 34 feet it looks more like 200 feet. An instructor on the ground asks you your number. You yell it out to him. If you didn't look down at him when you told him your number, he asks you again until you do. I saw 3 guys walk back down the stairs.

The 250 foot tower has 4 arms at the top. Basically, you're hauled to the top in an open parachute and dropped from the end of one of the arms. Usually, they only use 3, or sometimes 2, of the arms at a time. This depends on which way the wind is blowing. They don't want you being blown into the tower. This is to give you the feeling of actually floating down in a parachute, doing a PLF, and collapsing and gathering your parachute.

Jump Week is the BIG test. The PT has slacked up a bit, and we're getting maybe another hour per day of sleep. You have to make 5 jumps to qualify and graduate. On Monday we make 2 jumps; Tuesday we do 2 more jumps; and on Wednesday we make an equipment jump with our gear and weapons. I jumped 3 C-130s and 2 C-119s. On Friday we graduate and get our jump wings pinned on our chests. We've lost more than one-third of the original class. It's one of the proudest days of my life. I think I always knew I would comeplete the course. It was something that I really wanted, and after seeing how the quitters were treated, there was NO WAY I was going to go through that humiliation.

Pegasus, Rotor, Steve, feel free to share some of your experiences. Steve, could you tell us some about Rigger School and some of the statistics and nomenclature of the T-10, and other, parachutes?

When I went through jump school I think I had done everything wrong a person could do by the time jump week was over. They were even making jokes about pinning my wings on upside down so they would seem more in keeping with my abilities. I somersaulted through the risers once, walked off a guy's chute once, equipment rope was faulty, broke, and the gear augered in.

In the late '70's I went back to Benning to refresh, seems we were being prepped to go to some third world country and create a jump school so the HMIC could have an airborne battalion to play with. We had classes in the morning and spent the afternoon observing. The third day I was observing on the 34 foot towers and encountered something I never thought I would see, a female blackhat. She was at the top of the tower checking harness when I made an offhanded comment on an observaton I had made, "That troop's crotch straps were a little loose." She withered me with a look. I think she thought I was implying she should take a little more notice of those particular straps. I remained long enough to partially reestablish my dignity before I decided I would observe from the ground and left.

The next day on the DZ I watched as the smallest paratrooper I had ever seen simply could not get the T-10 out of the air. Everytime he would get close and prepare for a PLF an updraft would pick him up and move him down range about fifty yards. All the while a blackhat is underneath him screaming "Get out of my sky!"

Somwhere I thoght I posted a story about a teammate of mine who went through jumpmaster achool but I can't find it. If it doesn't turn up I will repost it.