Every semi-physical school in the military claims to be the most difficult 10-days or 3-weeks in the Army. The two examples are Air Assault and Airborne, if you didn’t already know this. I have attended both, most recently Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA. I am home alone vegging out on the couch for the evening and thought I would write about my experience at Airborne School.
I will start off saying there is nothing difficult about Airborne School, so long as you meet basic Army fitness standards. The hardest part about Airborne was not falling asleep while waiting to jump. This can become difficult when you are up all day sitting still with a parachute harness on in a cold hanger. see photo at Airborne School website.
Day one, you fill out paperwork per SOP in every Army school. Within the first couple of days you will also take a PT test with about 500 people. The track is a madhouse, the start looks like the beginning of the Boston Marathon.
The Airborne school at Benning is loaded with new Privates and LTs, which can be a challenge at times. If you are a new Soldier this is an excellent opportunity to talk to NCOs, so long as you don’t ask ridiculous questions. I enjoy attending these schools because you have a mix of personnel from various career fields. It gives you a chance to learn about other job specialties and how we all interact to create the greatest force in the world.
What are ridiculous questions:
- When do I get to move out of the barracks?
- Do I really have to do as what a SPC tells me, I just pinned PFC?
- How often do we have barracks inspections once at our real unit?
- How long until I can try out for Ranger/Special Forces?
- Why is the sky blue? for you Infantry folks reading this
You can check out the Airborne website or facebook page to learn about the 3-weeks of Airborne.
Not too exciting. You learn how to conduct a proper landing and don a parachute harness. Towards the end of the week you get to jump out of the 34 ft tower. Warning make sure nothing is pinching between the legs before jumping out of the tower. It only gets worse when you get yanked by the cable. It is fun, but we did have one person decide to drop out during the 34 ft tower. Kind of funny to come out to the school and drop due to a small tower.
Main things this week are the Swing Landing Trainer (SLT) and 250 ft Tower. The SLT was a pain while I was at the school due to being freezing cold. My hands were ripped up pretty bad due to the cold dry air. You don’t wear gloves during any training or jumps so be prepared if you get a winter date. The SLT is the worst training with regards to being yanked around. Jumping out of a plane is pretty uneventful, almost peaceful. The 250 ft Tower, all I can say is I didn’t do it. Volunteer if you want to do it, there is only so much time in a day. Not everyone gets a chance. It looked like fun, but the list to go was longer than a line for Space Mountain at Disney World.
For you youngins, it will make you understand sit and wait like no other school I have been to so far. You come in at 0300ish every day until everyone is able to complete all five jumps required to graduate. This can be as quick as three days, or you could end up doing jump five on graduation day. While a few people had their chutes tangle and a couple people landed in the trees, no one was seriously injured. It is a relatively safe activity, safer than bunggie jumping that is for sure. All I can say is be patient, listen to the Jump Masters, and stay awake.
Just a little bit about my Airborne experience. If you want to stay in the Army for a career I recommend an Airborne assignment at least once early on. When the chute opens you have 3-10 seconds of time to enjoy the calm, it is amazing. Floating through the sky is more peaceful than being alone out at sea with complete silence.
Eventually you hit the ground, just remember feet and knees together. The rest has little relevance.
Please share any Airborne stories in the comments section.
Enjoy the weekend.
Keep on Truckin’ – Watson