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Posts Tagged ‘ram-air’

Still no fires around here during the last week but lightning is expected the first part of next week- lets just hope there isn’t a bunch of rain with it!  Anyway, we had another practice jump this morning.  We are keeping our skills fine tuned for our next fire jump.  This is critical since most of our injuries stem from landing in an area in which was not intended- for example into the trees, a rock slide, a cliff, onto the backing course of an Asian driving school, or any other potentially lethal areas that typically surround an intended “jump spot” out in the wilderness.  Parachute accuracy is an important skill for any smokejumper who intends to do the job for very long.  A jump spot may be a patch of grass or short brush as small as a volleyball court and surrounded in hazards that will nearly guarantee you a medical evacuation if hit.  A volleyball court may seem large while you’re standing in it, but from 3000 feet it looks like a putting green at the mini-golf course, and maneuvering down into it while negotiating gusty winds can be as challenging as lassoing a greased midget riding a coked up show pony.  That’s why we like to keep or skills sharp by getting a jump every week or two regardless of how slow the fire season is at the time.

Touchdown

Touchdown

Flinders boys got to see their ol man jump

Flinders' boys got to see their ol' man jump

Brollier executing yet another perfect jump

Brollier enjoying his morning

Different types of canopies: DC-3 in red made by Airborne Systems , white and blue and the CR-360 in blue and yellow made by Performance Designs, inc.

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So, we had a day off yesterday (Sunday) and went to Chena hot springs.  It took nearly an hour to get there but was well worth it.  Soaking in the hot water, relaxing and enjoying the scenery was a nice contrast to the rigorous long days of training filled with stress, anxiety and fear (fear of being “washed” from the training program mostly… the actual jumping is mostly just adrenalin filled fun with a touch of fear mixed in for good measure).  The spots have been getting tighter and we have begun jumping two people per “stick”, which means someone else leaves the plane with you at virtually the same time so you have to contend with them in the same airspace as you.  It makes things much more complicated once you not only have to worry about the ground coming at you and having to find a good landing place in the midst of all the trees but you also have to make sure that you don’t have a mid-air collision with your buddy.  The height in which a mid-air occurs usually determines whether it is career ending or life ending… usually one or the other.  Other than that the only thing excited going on around the jump base is that it is “Mustache May!”

Oh yeah, trucker stash baby!

Oh yeah, trucker stash baby!

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So, as you may or may not know, I recently started my new job with the BLM smokejumpers in Boise, ID.  The overall job is essentially the same I’ve been doing for the last four years employed by the Forest Service Smokejumpers, with one major difference- completely different parachute systems.  Now some may think that if you know how to fly a parachute then it shouldn’t be that tough of a transition… Well, they are so different that it basically requires one to start over from the very beginning.  One-thirty this morning I arrived in Fairbanks Alaska, to the only other BLM Smokejumper base in the country.  Here I will complete 3 weeks of jump training on the new parachute system.  Imagine that the only thing that you have ever driven was a tank, then they put you in a Maserati.  Now consider that the consequences of making an error could be fatal… needless to say, this is going to be a very arduous and stressful couple of weeks, but hey, that’s basically my whole job in a nutshell.

Forest Service "Round" Forest Service “Round”

BLM "Square"

BLM "Square"

Today we had orientation and went over all of our jump gear to make sure that we are ready to go.  I’ll do posts regularly throughout training to keep everyone updated.

fairbanks tp-07-2071-036

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