So, the general consensus is that, although the Airborne School might not be able to help you directly in any particular post-military career path, you'll nevertheless learn invaluable skills that will help you in life. To explain, let's go over the rigorous training program that's involved in the U.S. Army's Airborne School.
Based at Fort Benning, Ga., Airborne School trains soldiers in static line deployed parachutes. Static line refers to a kind of parachute jump where the parachute is actually linked to the airplane. As a soldier jumps out, the line will pull the parachute open automatically without the soldier needing to do anything. The Airborne School includes instructors, known as "Black Hats," are from not only the Army but also the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.
The training is divided up into three weeks: Ground Week, Tower Week and Jump Week. Ground Week requires soldiers to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), measuring physical fitness standards with push-ups, sit-ups and a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) run. This week also involves learning the basics of exiting the aircraft using a mock door. Soldiers also learn landing technique to minimize impact to the ground. In addition, this week involves training from a 34-foot (10.4-meter) tower and gliding down a lateral drift apparatus.
The second week, Tower Week, involves simulation of the landing experience with what's called a Swing Landing Trainer (SLT). The soldiers have to qualify on the SLT in order to move on. They must also know mass exit procedures and demonstrate this on the 34-foot tower. Finally, they move up to a 250-foot (76.2-meter) tower in order to get some hands-on practice manipulating a parachute.
At last, during Jump Week, the soldiers get to jump from planes. It requires five successful jumps during this week to graduate from Airborne School. Most of the time, one of these jumps is done during the night, but some training cycles don't include a night jump. Three of the five jumps are called "Hollywood jumps" because the soldier doesn't carry extra equipment. But for at least two of the jumps, soldiers must carry a rucksack and dummy weapon. Soldiers jump at 1,250 feet (381 meters) from a C-130 or C-17 plane before they can finally brandish silver wings on their uniform [source: U.S. Army].
For lots more information on the Army and careers, jump over to the links below.
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- Mathieson, Josh. Operations Captain, Redding Smokejumper Base. Personal Correspondence. April 25, 2011.
- U.S. Army. "1-507th Parachute Infantry Regiment." Fort Benning. U.S. Army. (April 26, 2011)https://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/199th/airborne/jump_wk.htm
- U.S. Army. "Soldier Life: Airborne School." GoArmy.com. U.S. Army. (April 26, 2011)http://www.goarmy.com/soldier-life/being-a-soldier/ongoing-training/specialized-schools/airborne-school.html
- Yerkey, Maj. Robert, Executive Officer for 1st Battalion (Airborne) 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 199th Infantry Brigade. Personal Correspondence. April 25, 2011.