I have done lots of jumps but never seen anything like this ever. This guy is either plain stupid or has the biggest set of balls on anyone. I look at it often and still not sure if he should have ridden it out, In these situations it really is a personal matter what you do. In military jumping you dont have altimeters and the other scary part is that your actual height above ground is very very difficult to judge.
In case you are wondering, there is no greater feeling in the world than being part of this
When it looks like you will land in water the Army drill is very simple. Unstrap yourself from the harness sit in the seat a certain way. Then, under no circumstances ever let go of the canopy until you feet actually touch the water. The reason for this is the impossible nature of being able to judge your height accurately.
This is something I would never want to do, he has more balls than me
If you really want to know what my scariest moment was it was during training at Williamstown when the drop zone was at Salt Ash. A night jump. OK we were all trained up as best the RAAF and Army could do and these boys were sticklers for getting things right. If they thought you were not suited you were off the course and no comeback about it at all.
Imagine if you will. Night time. In a C130 Hercules transport aircraft. OK – we had done about 6 jumps by that stage but…… In the aircraft and the red night lights are on and on the drop run. You are standing at the door looking out into pitch black with the green jump light on. The dispatcher screams out GO !!!
I will never forget that moment which seemed to go forever. One of those catch 22 moments where time stands still. At the door, green jump light on, GO was the command. Looking out into pitch black, 4 screaming Rolls Royce Merlin turbo props in your ear, a 400 knot prop wash wind to jump into. Seriously, I am an Adrenalin junkie but at that moment all I could think was “what the fuck am I doing here”. So I threw my right leg out into the slipstream – I was outside.
From there on it was simply trusting the Army and experience. They did say you cannot see the canopy at all, it is white. It is only 20 feet above you but invisible in the night sky. Normally you see the canopy open in front of you but not tonight. You had to trust the feel of opening shock to decide if the chute was open or not. You know from experience that you have about an 8 second ride once you leave the aircraft. No things didnt get any better at all.
The landing. One immutable truth about being under canopy. You are going to hit the ground, Newton and his gravity theory makes that a certainty. Exactly how we hit the ground is up to us. We try and figure out how high we are by trying to use the horizon as a reference but we know thats no real help. No, you have no idea as to how far above the ground you are. The only decision possible is to get into the landing position quickly and ride it out. Normally with day jumps you can see which direction you are going and that does change the landing drill a fair bit but not so with a night jump.
The inevitable happens. Bang – you are on your arse and still alive and nothing broken. Terra firma wins again. Silly part is the Army gives you a reserve chute for a night jump. To this day I dont know why. Maybe there is an off chance that if something did go wrong by pure chance and a whole lot of luck a life might be saved. 42 years later and lots of jumps since I am still here and its all because of the excellent standard of training by the Army and RAAF. Thats my belief and I will stay with it.
Happy landings guys.