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Posts Tagged ‘smokejumpers’

At the beginning of each fire season, as jumpers come drifting in from their winter lives as surfers, fisherman, international travelers, slum lords, hog splitters (seriously, one of my buddies works at a meat packing plant, sawing pigs in half), and mostly ski bums, they have to be “refreshed”.  Refresher training consists of  two weeks of remembering how to do our job.  One week is dedicated to reviewing parachuting, and the other to reviewing firefighting.  With refresher training comes a mix of emotions.  Scanning the crowd on that first morning meeting of the week and you will see faces that express sadness that winter vacation is over, joy that friends are united again, excitement that a new fire season is about to begin,  and frustration knowing the next two weeks will be filled with critique and scrutiny of your parachuting performance.  Overall it’s just about knocking the dust off and getting your head back into the game.

Here are some photos from our parachuting refresher:

Red, White, and Blue chutes and Orange chute are DC-7’s made by Airborne Systems: http://www.airborne-sys.com/

Blue and Yellow chutes are CR-360’s made by Performance Design: http://www.performancedesigns.com/

Two DC-7 parachutes

The Legend coming in

CR-360 parachutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good landing

Ladies, his name is Evan Adsit

The Twin Otter kicking cargo

Cargo coming down on a "bucket" chute

Traditional cargo chute

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Finally!  A fire call!  The call came in about 4pm on Thursday.  For a few days it had been pretty quiet around here and there wasn’t any lightning forecast for the day so it came as a surprise.   The fire was near Price, UT.  As it turned out it was a lightning strike from several days prior, it just had been smoldering around until some wind came up and started to fan the flames.  This fire was pretty straight forward… we jumped it, put line around it and mopped up until late that night.  The next day we mopped up some more with the help of a few helicopter drops, and had the thing cold by 4pm, 24hrs after we got the call, now that’s efficient firefighting.  That’s the reason that we can justify our program, our job.  Had they taken extra time to have crews of people walk up to the fire from the nearest road, the fire could have been too large to contain right away and may have burned down into the community below.  The most critical thing is getting to the fire as quickly as possible and attack it while it is as small as possible.  When the fire was out we got a helicopter ride to the Price airport and waited for our plane to come pick us up and fly us back to Spanish Fork.  Easy as that.

flying to the fire

Perfect fire!  Small but not too small, good jump spot and beautiful scenery!

Perfect fire! Small but not too small, good jump spot and beautiful scenery!

Once we hit the ground we were very busy.  We had to assemble our tools and hustle to cut saw line, dig fire line and try to contain the fire quickly because the wind was blowing and causing the fire to really take off.  After several hours we were able to get the flames knocked down and the fire contained but unfortunately in the chaos I didn’t get the opportunity to take any photos.  So, the ones I got were from the next day during the “mop-up” phase.  They aren’t as glorious as pics with fire in them but it gives you an idea of what it was like…

The fire slowed its progress once it hit the aspen

The fire slowed it's progress once it hit the aspen

It ended being about 2.5 acres

It ended being about 2.5 acres

Helicopter bucket drop- helps out a lot getting 50 gallons at a time

Helicopter bucket drop- helps out a lot getting 50 gallons at a time

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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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We did a practice jump yesterday up Spanish Fork canyon.  Beautiful day, beautiful jump…. it was a good reminder of why I do this job!

The load

The load

enjoying the view

enjoying the view

coming in on final approach

coming in on final approach

stacking them right in

stacking them right in

WOMBAT!

WOMBAT!

Dax

Dax

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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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