Well I can almost say I've got ya on this one... a little :)I was a Smoke Jumper in the Forest Service back in the early '80's. The stone age as far as equipment would go. I think the chutes that you guys chucked out, we ended up with. We had those old round green chutes that were just pieces of junk! A chute you could (almost) steer? HA! Don't even think about it! I think we were lucky they didn't just give us some big blankets and tell us to hold onto the corners when we went out of the plane! hahahahaBut all of our jumps were static line - we didn't free fall at all. We only jumped between about 1200 and 1500 feet so there wasn't much time for a free fall. And we ALWAYS hit hard! Holy cow! If you didn't end up in a tree (a fairly common occurrence) you hit like a ton of bricks. I have a ton of back and leg problems from that and a little incident with a Jet Ranger 212 that had what we'll call a "bad landing" to say the least. Can you say Auto Rotate? I can, but only when crying and shaking! That's the only time in my life I was more scared than my first jump. Holy cow is scared the tar out of me!But my first jump I think I left a trail of brown "product" from the plane all the way down to the ground. Holy shit I was scared to death! I kept thinking during training "Oh man, this is going to be scary, really scary" and it would end up not being bad. Over and over I was convinced that "this was the one" where I'd puss out and never hear the end of it, but it all went pretty smooth, and some of it was actually fun! But that first jump, it was all good until I got near the door. The jump master yells at you "Get in the door! Get ready! GO!" and slaps you on the back as you launch your tail out the door. Not me.... Get in the door... no problem..... Get ready.... yep, change my handhold, I'm ready, GO! Nope - I don't think so! hahahaha I remember hearing him say "Yea Right!" and pushing me out the door! Oh man did I let out a squeal! and left that stream of "product" behind me as I headed towards the ground. Thank goodness it wasn't a high jump where I'd have a lot of time to think about it, or a free fall, I'd have had a stroke and died on the way down! But I was down and on the ground before I knew it. Thank Gawd!Then just get your gear together, get your bearings, and listen to the Super tell you where we are going and what the plans are. Now days the puss balls don't even jump with their gear on, it gets tossed down behind them on a second pass. Enough gear for 2 guys. We had to jump with our own gear, pack, tool, everything. I weighed in at 202 in just uniform and boots, but add close to another 65 pounds of pack and crap to the jump and your knees will let you know how much that really is. I originally was on a Pulaski (a type of fire axe) then got moved onto a saw crew. So you've got a saw with a 4' bar, gas, oil, all sorts of extra crap to jump with. At least a saw crew is 2 guys, so you only have to take the saw with you every other time.But I ran into a fairly local crew last summer and we sat and chewed the fat and picked on each other for awhile and I was amazed at the changes that were made and how easy they have it compared to what we did. We worked 40 hours on, 2 off, then back out for another shift. The new crews only work 14 hours and don't work once it's dark. What? They work 2 weeks then get time off. What? Does the fire take time off? And the best time to fight a fire is at night! The fire is calmer, it's usually going downhill because of the wind, it's cooler - which is also easier on you, that's the best time to get a hold of those bastards, but not now, somebody might stub a toe or something! Geez! I was amazed. But I've rambled long enough. You definitely have me on number of jumps, both static and free fall, I only jumped 65 times into fires over 3 years, then the little incident with the 212 and I was basically retired. In those dark ages of 1983 it was 6 months in the hospital and a huge cast and scars from the tip of my toes to the top of my head to fix my back up, which only partially worked. And now it's seems the nerves in my lower back and legs are dying so I get a lot of pain and I'm pretty noodle legged sometimes. Hard to even walk a city block anymore, which is a shame because one of my favorite things to do was go hiking. Way into the back country and just hike until dark and then bed down and sleep under the stars. Just loved that. I'm working on trying to get past all of this, but we'll see. It's not so easy sometimes and the meds are a bit much for me sometimes.Oh well... that's my whiny story.... Fortunately for me, none of my career in the Forest Service was classified. The CIA has nothing to do with commie trees and those socialist bears and deer! :)You're a tougher nut than me Senior Chief Shipley! :)And P.S. - I ALWAYS find my Pud when I need it, ALWAYS! hahahahahahaha :)
I wanted to jump before I expire but now I'm wondering how clapped out those rental chutes are now. Bowling shoes and the bootcamp .45's (probably from 1911) that were sleeved down to .22's come to mind.
I've jumped 7 times (I'm not in the Armed Forces) and my last jump, I hit hard due to the fact that I was trying not to pull so early (as I had been doing) .. Well, I ended up cracking my knee cap (not fun). Thanks for Posting
Be glad you didn't make Airborne your career, Don. My husband did (Army) and has had a neck fusion, low back fusion, knee replacement and is looking at having the other one done, soon. His hips and feet are jacked up, too. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result... yeah.... Of course, he didn't get those results til about 30 years later. You guys... sheesh! God Bless y'all, because you wouldn't catch me jumping out of a plane - I'm like Diane, I don't even like to fly commercial - much less on those government issued planes that appear to be put together with cardboard and duct tape! (Maybe THAT is the reason you guys jump OUT!)