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Archive for the ‘Parachuting’ Category

The History of Iron Mike

Sunday, September 24th, 2023

Paratroopers everywhere will immediately recognize Iron Mike. Fayetteville’s Airborne and Special Operations Museum recently shared the history of this iconic figure.

In the spring of 1960, 18th Airborne Corps Commander Lieutenant General Robert Sink appointed Mrs. Leah Hiebert, a military spouse and sculptress, to design and fabricate a statue to encapsulate the spirit of the Airborne trooper. The original idea was inspired by the cover of Ross Carter’s Book, “Those Devils in Baggy Pants”.

Mrs. Hiebert, whose husband, Samuel L. Hiebert, served as an Army chaplain during World War II, created the statue in an old parachute packing facility. Sergeant MajorJames Runyon was selected as the model for the statue, and posed for over four hours a day, twenty minutes at a time while wearing his own WWII uniform. The photograph below was taken of Runyon to aide in the construction of the statue as it was being developed.

By November of 1960, the team fabricated the steel frame. The statue stands with his left foot in a raised position on a pile of rocks, and his upper body leans forward bearing weight on his elbow, which rests on his raised left knee. While the statue is officially named “The Airborne Trooper,” it is colloquially known as “Iron Mike”. The inscription on the base of the statue reads: “Iron Mike, In honor of Airborne Troopers whose courage, dedication, and traditions make them the world’s finest fighting soldiers”.

As the project neared completion, planners began looking for a suitable location to serve as its resting place. It was finally decided that the intersection of Knox Street and Bragg Blvd would house the 15 foot tall, 3,235 pound statue. On September 23, 1961, the statue was revealed. It quickly gained notoriety at Fort Bragg, but due to acts of vandalism, Iron Mike was later moved to the traffic circle between the Fort Bragg Club and the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg headquarters building in 1979. In 2005, the statue was replaced with a bronze version and the original, which had been deteriorating, was restored and refurbished and was placed at the U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum in 2010. In 2021, Iron Mike was refurbished again. He still stands watch and welcomes all visitors at the ASOM.

Wind Tunnel Training: Key to Expeditionary and Special Warfare Readiness

Wednesday, August 16th, 2023

NORFOLK, Va. – Several members from the Naval Safety Command (NAVSAFECOM) Expeditionary and Special Warfare Directorate participated in simulated skydiving training at the iFly Virginia Beach July 17. This periodically scheduled training allows jump participants a simulated free fall environment to work on various body positions, corrective actions and emergency action procedures in a controlled and supervised environment.

IFly provides an indoor skydiving experience that creates free fall conditions without having to jump out of an aircraft. The facility’s vertical wind tunnel generates 1600 horse power from four powerful fans, creating a wall-to-wall cushion of air on which participants can safely float. While an entertainment venue for the general population, the wind tunnel is more than just fun for the DoD personnel who use it for training purposes. 

“I have been doing the wind tunnel training for about six years and the training is the closest we can get to representing the feeling, motion and training to actual flight,” said a Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator stationed at NAVSAFECOM as a naval special warfare safety analyst. “This training is important to me and others as it allows the opportunity to maintain jump qualification proficiency while stationed at a non-operational command.”

The wind tunnel is a low-risk atmosphere that provides the jumper with a realistic experience of falling through the air at 125 mph. Jumpers work on stability, 360-degree turns, side slide and forward or back movements. Once the basic movements have been mastered, jumpers can transition into emergency procedures and simulate each emergency procedure they might encounter at the “bottom end” of their jump. Not only will jumpers practice their wave off procedure, but they will simulate and conduct a hard pull Emergency Procedure (EP), learning how to stay stable and still execute with quick but precision hard pull.

On this training day at the wind tunnel, participants had their own individual areas they aimed to train in. Participants have different levels of experience and specific training goals to work toward.

“Today I worked on various free fall body positions. Moving forward and back, left to right in different varieties,” said the Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator. “The other thing I worked on was recovery stability, having the instructor push or pull me and roll me over and working on my recovery.”

Senior Chief Special Warfare Boat Operator Brad Rumbaugh, a small boat safety analyst with NAVSAFECOM, has over 200 military free fall (MFF) jumps and countless hours going into the tunnel. Rumbaugh’s training focused on his “Coach’s Position,” which uses legs to maneuver, freeing one’s hands for hand signals while instructing another flyer.

“The position is for assisting another jumper. If someone hasn’t jumped in a while or asks for someone to jump out with them, that position allows for the “coach” to use his or her hands to either help or eventually pull the rip cord if the jumper freaks out or freezes in the air and misses their pull altitude,” said Rumbaugh. “When coaching you have to be ready to stop their spin, direct and communicate corrections with your hands. You can’t be using your hand to maneuver and pass hand signals at the same time, so you have to learn to fly with your legs so your hands are free.”

The participants know the value of wind tunnel training and seize every opportunity they have to participate.

“Training like this is important to DoD because like everything else you have to stay current with your skills. You either use or lose your skills with things like shooting, skydiving, scuba diving, etc.,” said Rumbaugh. “Wind tunnel training allows military free fall parachutists the ability to knock the rust off, gain more experience and boost their confidence in emergency procedures prior to the real evolution of military free fall.”

Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Jeremy Marco, a NAVSAFECOM expeditionary warfare safety analyst stressed the importance of the free fall emergency and survivability procedures and the opportunity the vertical wind tunnel provides.

“Vertical wind tunnel training with procedures increases the jumper’s in-air survivability and ability to withstand and cope with malfunctions and in-air emergencies that could occur,” said Marco. “Today, I worked specifically on belly fly, turns using hands and feet, situational awareness and air space management.”

Risk is inherent in all tasks, training, missions, operations and personal activities no matter how routine. While there is no shortage of inherent risk in the Navy’s expeditionary and special warfare communities, training such as the wind tunnel remains key to readiness ? Navy’s top priority. Today’s operational environment demands ships, aircraft, submarines, expeditionary forces, special operations forces and personnel that are ready to fight and win.

From Leslie Tomaino

DISCLAIMER: The use of IFLY by name in this article does not imply endorsement by the Naval Safety Command.

USAF Pararescue Specialists & Astronaut/Entrepreneur Larry Connor Announce World-Record Skydive to Raise $1 M for Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Friday, August 11th, 2023

Alpha 5 Project Announces World-Record Skydive to Raise $1 Million for Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Alpha 5 Team Will Use Michigan Created Balloon– the Largest in America for 35,000 Transport Before Jump

[Melbourne, Fla.–August 10, 2023] – Operator Solutions, a leading provider of specialized search and rescue solutions to the commercial spaceflight and private sectors, and Larry Connor, pilot of the Axiom Space Ax-1 Mission and Founder and Managing Partner of The Connor Group, a nationally recognized real estate investment firm, are proud to announce the launch of the Alpha 5 Project, a mission to set a new world record for the highest HALO (high altitude, low opening) formation skydive and raise $1 million for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) through donations at specialops.org/alpha5.

To break the existing unofficial world record for the highest HALO formation, skydive, the five jumpers will ascend to an altitude of 35,000 feet in a specially designed hot air balloon along with a balloon pilot and O2 Tech while following HALO safety protocols and wearing full oxygen equipment. From there, the jumpers will exit the balloon, link arms, and form a five-person formation before safely separating and landing. A representative from Guinness World Records will be present to assess and validate the record-setting achievement.

The Alpha 5 Project mission is to highlight the invaluable work carried out by SOWF, while also serving as a tribute to the remarkable skills and technical prowess of U.S. Air Force Special Warfare Pararescue Specialists known as “PJs.” SOWF honors fallen Special Operations Personnel, and all Medal of Honor Recipients, by providing comprehensive educational opportunities to their children, “cradle to career,” from preschool through college, as well as immediate financial support to wounded, ill, and injured Special Operations Personnel.

Impressed by Operator Solutions’ commitment to excellence during the Ax-1 Mission to the International Space Station, Connor approached Founder and CEO Brandon Daugherty to collaborate on a high-altitude jump for a purpose. Daugherty, a PJ, and Chief Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, assembled a team of four current and former PJs (including himself) to perform the jump alongside Connor, as well as a full support team to ensure its safe and successful execution.

“The Alpha 5 Project combines the challenge of setting a world record with the purpose of raising awareness for an incredible organization that honors the legacy of Special Operations Personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our Nation,” said Connor. “I’m proud to be able to shine a light on these unsung heroes and the incredible technical expertise and dedication of the PJs and the Special Operations community. They are the best of the best.”

“Special Operations Warrior Foundation is an incredible organization that cares for the children and the legacy of America’s Special Operations Personnel and, as someone with seven overseas deployments to combat zones, it’s a cause that is near and dear to my heart and to everyone in the Special Operations community,” added Daugherty. “We’re excited to make this jump to shine a spotlight on this great organization and raise the funds that will allow them to continue their mission.”

“We invite the Nation to join us in celebrating the exceptional capabilities of America’s PJs and the enduring mission of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Together, we can make a significant impact on the lives of our country’s heroes and ensure a bright future for their children,” shared Major General (Ret.) Clayton M. Hutmacher, President & CEO of Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

The Alpha 5 Project will take place at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM, within the jump window of September 15 to October 15 (due to weather conditions and restrictions).

100% of funds raised will go directly to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Learn more and donate at specialops.org/alpha5.

Complete Parachute Solutions – K9 Jump Mannequin

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

One of the things you learn is that rehearsals are critical to mission success. That’s why parachutists jump regularly and divers make scheduled dives.

The use of K9s for search, scouting and attack purposes means that they’ve got to get to the fight just like their handlers and sometimes that means an MFF insertion. But, to make sure that the handler and K9 survive the jump, it’s imperative to train. It’s also much lower risk for the handler if the actual dog isn’t on training jumps.

Complete Parachute Solutions has developed a K9 jump mannequin to prepare handler parachutists for jumps with their K9 companion. Use of a mannequin doesn’t expose the K9’s limbs to high altitude cold or injury during landings.

The mannequin simulates the size and build of a Malinois Or Shepherd in the “crouch” Or down position. It weighs At 62 lbs (28 kg) and features a permanently affixed K9 harness. The harness is also available separately.


Warrior East 23 – Towed Jumper Release System

Friday, July 7th, 2023

One of the hazards of jumping out of perfectly good airplanes is that every once in awhile a paratrooper gets stuck, being dragged along with the aircraft by his static line or other piece of equipment. This is referred to as a “towed jumper”. Generally, they attempt to reel the jumper back inside the aircraft with a hydraulic system which I can only imagine feels like being beaten by a pillow case full of doorknobs as you’re smacked against the side of the aircraft and back in through the troop door. An alternative is the cut the jumper away if he is conscious and allow him to manually his reserve parachute.

Now, there’s a twist on that latter course of action which inserts a backup parachute between the aircraft and jumper before cutting his primary static line. The Towed Jumper Release System from Airborne Systems, is a modification of a British system known as the Hung Up Parachutist Release Assembly, or HUPRA.

The system uses a static line to deploy a T11 main canopy over the jumper and he retains access to his chest mounted reserve chute and his main doesn’t deploy but rather remains within its deployment bag on the packtray.

Units and agencies can procure products seen at Warrior East by contacting ADS, Inc.

Raytheon Technologies Introduces OXYJUMP NG Oxygen Supply System for Military Parachutists

Wednesday, May 10th, 2023

Advanced technology provides advantages for special operations missions – enabling longer glide duration on higher altitude jumps, maximizing oxygen use and reducing system weight

TAMPA, FL (MAY 9, 2023) – Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business (NYSE: RTX), introduced its  OXYJUMP™ NG oxygen supply system for use in high altitude jumps by parachutists. The OXYJUMP NG system’s breakthrough technology enhances mission capabilities with a longer gliding distance, improves jumper safety, is easy to use and contains significant size and weight advantages over legacy systems.

Existing oxygen supply systems are limited in extended high-altitude operations, restricting the effectiveness and reach of parachute missions.

Utilizing Collins’ oxygen pulse technology – already certified by one NATO country – the OXYJUMP NG system provides customers with a smaller, lighter weight solution which automatically adjusts oxygen levels to enable longer mission profiles.

“The OXYJUMP NG system gives allied armed forces the stealth, readiness and safety necessary to complete the most complex jumps on earth,” said Brad Haselhorst, vice president and general manager of Military, Safety and Cargo Systems at Collins Aerospace. “The OXYJUMP NG system not only keeps up with the evolving nature of combat jumps, but it’s ready for use today.”

Designed for comfort and ease of use, the OXYJUMP NG system operates automatically and includes an ergonomically designed mask to comfortably and securely fit against the face, giving users peace of mind and keeping them focused on their most critical tasks.

Collins Aerospace’s OXYJUMP NG system will be on display at SOF Week in Tampa, Florida at booth L910.

National Guard, Canada Conduct Tactical Arctic Insertion

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

NUNAVUT, Canada — Thirty-seven U.S. and Canadian soldiers were tactically inserted by way of an LC-130 Hercules on Arctic Ocean ice just east of Little Cornwallis Island in Nunavut, Canada, during exercise Guerrier Nordique 23 on March 15, 2023. The multi-country and joint effort is the first ever platoon movement of its kind.

The New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing is the only ski equipped tactical C-130 with flying missions focusing on snow and ice landings, which is made possible by multi-capable Airmen trained to build and groom those runways. The LC-130H is equipped with 4-by-20-foot feet skis that make landing possible on specially built skiways and ski landing areas.

“We’ve been flying missions in Greenland and Antarctica for over 30 years, and this is the first time we’ve ever conducted a tactical insertion with Canadian reserve soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Sala, officer-in-charge of the 109th Airlift Wing’s Polar Camp Skiway Team and Ski Landing Area Control Officers. “This is just the starting point for us to build from. We hope to expand our capacity and have more training missions like we had here with Guerrier Nordique. This exercise demonstrated the LC-130s full capability to infill and exfil tactical forces providing Arctic agile combat employment while also incorporating valuable training to our multi-capable airmen,” said Sala.

Soldiers and Airman loaded the LC-130 at the Canadian Armed Forces Arctic Training Center in Resolute Bay. They were flown northwest to a location just east of Little Cornwallis Island. Airmen from the 109th had groomed a ski landing area on the Arctic ice, which is where the aircraft landed. The location was previously secured by a small section of U.S. Soldiers, Canadian Rangers, and a Canadian Pathfinder.

After landing, soldiers disembarked and set a security perimeter 100 meters from the landing zone. Dressed in overwhite camouflage, soldiers established their security positions. Soldiers were equipped with individual weapons, machine guns and everything they needed to sustain themselves for up to three days in the Arctic.

“This is only the beginning,” said Canadian Army Lt. Col. Andre Morin, land component commander for Guerrier Nordique. “The partnership between the Canadians and Americans is invaluable. I would like to see this exercise grow from here and make it bigger and better. We have now confirmed that we have the ability to deliver Soldiers in a very difficult environment. Eventually, in the future, I hope to have a Canadian battalion and a company from the United States.”

Guerrier Nordique is a cold-weather training exercise for the Canadian Army that takes place in a different location each year. Resolute Bay is one of the few places that is located above the 60th parallel or the Arctic Circle. The Vermont National Guard has participated each year since 2012 and hopes to continue well into the future.

“This is my sixth time participating in Guerrier Nordique and it’s gotten bigger and better each year,” said U.S. Army Maj. Matt Hefner, officer-in-charge for the U.S. Soldiers during Guerrier Nordique. “This year the 105th and 109th Airlift Wings took part in the exercise and we certainly hope they continue in this multi-national and now joint training. The sky is truly the limit.”

Most of the U.S. Soldiers delivered came from the National Guard; Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Utah were all represented. The 11th Airborne Division out of Fairbanks, Alaska, also sent two Soldiers. Canadian Soldiers taking part in the exercise are also mostly reservists from the 35th Canadian Brigade Group based in Eastern Quebec. Canada also sent Soldiers from the 34th Canadian Brigade Group, 4th Health Services Group and from the Canadian Rangers. In total, 235 soldiers and airmen participated in Guerrier Nordique.

“Almost every single soldier and airman here are from the National Guard or a reservist in the Canadian Army,” said Hefner. “Organizing and executing this task has been a challenge, but seeing the Air National Guard, Army National Guard and Canadian Army Reserve work together to execute this exercise has been an awesome experience. The Hercules landing and those Soldiers coming out in close to 50 below was awesome.”

By CPT Mikel Arcovitch

US Army, Thai Paratroopers Supported by US Air Force During Cobra Gold 23

Friday, March 17th, 2023

PATTAYA, Thailand — The U.S. Air Force’s 15th Wing successfully supported a personnel drop operation while in an eight-ship formation on Mar. 3, 2023, during one of the largest multilateral theater security operation exercises in the Indo-Pacific.

Operation planning took place on Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, from Feb. 27 to Mar. 2, 2023, before dropping over a combined 600 U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division and Royal Thai Army soldiers over the Kingdom of Thailand as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2023.

U.S. Army Col. Todd Burroughs, commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, mentioned that nearly 150 Thai soldiers were integrated to jump alongside the U.S. army.

“They are very proficient and they are ready to roll as part of Task Force Falcon,” said Burroughs.

To support the 82nd Airborne Division, aircrew assigned to the 535th Airlift Squadron and the 204th Airlift Squadron coordinated flight and personnel drop plans for the aerial operation, creating the majority of products needed for the event within two days.

“For an operation of this size, the planning timeline is typically nine months long,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Mike Hank, 204th Airlift Squadron chief of tactics. “The Air Force planning team, in conjunction with the Air Mobility Division, accomplished this in 20 days.”

Of the eight C-17s that arrived on Diego Garcia, three were assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; two to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; and three to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

“We’ve amassed seasoned pilots and loadmasters across all of our jets, and we have a robust maintenance team with participation from both the active duty, guard, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, Air Mobility Command, and integrated support from the Joint Communications Support Element and the AMD,” said Hank.

A joint mission brief was held the morning before the operation, highlighting important information needed for all participating parties, including weather conditions, aircraft rosters and drop zones.

“It’s in our DNA as air droppers — from joint forcible entry operations into Iraq in 2003 to the annual swift response exercises on our eastern flank — delivering the 82nd Airborne Division’s global response force concept is our bread and butter,” said Hank. “This time we get to conduct with the 82nd Airborne Division and our allies, the Royal Thai Army, always delivering our promise of anywhere, anytime and on time.”

Cobra Gold, now in its 42nd year, is a Thai-U.S. co-sponsored training event that builds on the long-standing friendship between the two allied nations and brings together a robust multinational force to promote regional peace and security in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

By SSgt Alan Ricker, U.S. Air Force