• May 20, 2014
  • 3

Airborne Adventures III

The first week of training at jump school is known as ground week. This is because the Army teaches troops how to fall down in a proper military manner by having everyone hurl themselves into the deck for five straight days.

In order to land safely students must master the Parachute Landing Fall (PLF). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parachute_Landing_Fall

Ocorrding to the Wikipedia link above, the PLF is properly conducted thusly: “While landing under a parachute canopy, the jumper’s feet strike the ground first and, immediately, he throws himself sideways to distribute the landing shock sequentially along five points of body contact with the ground:

    1.    the balls of the feet
    2.    the side of the calf
    3.    the side of the thigh
    4.    the side of the hip, or buttocks (as a side note, keeping your head out of your 4th point of contact is highly recommended)
    5.    the side of the back (latissimus dorsi muscle)

After days and days of falling down I noticed I was developing bruises along my lats. I took this to mean I was doing it right. Unfortunately, Ground Week was the first time I ever felt older than the young fire breathers.

At one point during ground week we practiced falling off of something known as the lateral drift apparatus.  This contraption was essentially a short zip line. Students would grab on to the line and jump off a 3 or 4 foot platform. Barreling down the zip line, they’d let go and execute a proper PLF into the pea gravel below.

Feet and knees together dirtbag!

You may note in the picture above everyone is standing in a line along each side of the apparatus. As the line progressed students moved down hopping to their left with their feet and knees together in a PLF position. Keep in mind students were expected to run everywhere they went as well. Punishment for deviating from this routine was to execute a set of pushups. This is because, Airborne!

We spent an entire morning colliding into the planet. Gravel and spittle flew as students crashed into the gravel again and again. I must have executed 1000 perfect falls that morning. Each time I landed I immediately leapt up and ran to the end of line then obediently hopped to my left until it was my turn again.

After lunch we went right back to training. I discovered that sometime over chow my body decided it would no longer participate. Try as I might, I could not execute a proper PLF to save my life. Hurdling into the gravel, my arms and legs went in all directions and my body rolled into a sloppy heap of wet laundry. Frowning, the Black Hats shook their heads in quiet judgement of my unsatisfactory performance.

Young, 18 year old Joes continued to execute flawless PLFs. Leaping up out of the gravel like resurrected phoenix from mythology, they sprinted back into line as fresh as they were this morning. In contrast, my performance was getting uglier and uglier as I bounced like a crash test dummy. I  was just plain beat and realized I was probably unlearning everything I’d trained to do all morning.

My mood began to reflect my energy level as I stopped caring about ridiculously jumping around the stupid training area in a proper PLF position. I deliberately walked throughout the rest of our lateral drift high impact training session. I figured any pushups levied would take less out of me than hopping about like a dumb ass jackrabbit in the pea gravel.

Strangely, none of my Airborne instructors demanded their tribute of pushups for my open rebellion.

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj

/ / / /


  1. Yeah, there are compensations for getting old, but hitting the ground 1000 times without consequences is not one of them.

    I’ll spend tonight thinking about the compensations for growing old and, if I come up with any, I’ll head back here and let you know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *