Andrew and Jared Domsic had the distinct privilege of going to Airborne School during their summer break. By successfully completing the basic course, they joined an elite group of soldiers with a battle-rich history. Here are some of their experiences.
“This summer I had the opportunity to do several times what many people never get to do in their lifetime: jump out of an aircraft. Airborne school is divided into three phases: Ground Week, Tower Week, and Jump Week. Ground Week started off quickly, and the pace never slackened. A typical day started with Physical Training in the morning followed by training in the afternoon with breakfast and lunch interspersed. During Ground Week we learned how to properly exit an aircraft using the 34-foot mock towers and how to properly execute a parachute landing fall (PLF).
During Tower Week we continued what we had learned in Ground Week and focused on making correct landings. We practiced landing from jumping off a low wall, falling from a zip line and falling from a swing. Each stage involved progressively more motion and uncertainty as to when we would fall. All of the events were graded and those who could not properly execute the PLFs were recycled. We did additional work in the harness shed, where we practiced emergency procedures and how to maneuver with the parachute.
By far the most exciting, and perhaps the most challenging, week was Jump Week. During Jump Week we started our days with a 3:30 AM formation. We would then go down to the harness shed, where we would conduct our pre-jump training before breakfast. After breakfast, we would enter the harness shed, where time does not exist. We had to sit without talking, sleeping, or touching our equipment until it was our turn to jump. My guess is that we typically waited for at least 3-4 hours at a time; however, it was all worth it once we jumped.
The exhilaration of jumping from an airplane is without equal. When you first leave the plane, you are immediately caught up in the prop blast. It is a very confusing experience, as you feel you are being tumbled around, but you stick to your training and count by thousands to four thousand. Then suddenly, your chute deploys, and everything is still. And for about 45 seconds, as you descend, you experience a serenity unlike anything else. The feeling does not last long, however, as you soon must prepare to execute a PLF as you hit the ground.”