Blue Skies Jumping

Static line parachuting - by SI T Murphy

Blue Skies Jumping

19 July 2023

  • Humberside And South Yorkshire ACF

With a 5+ hour drive ahead from CTC Driffield, with pick-ups along the way the mood in the minibus was one of excitement and trepidation!

We were on our way to the home of Army Parachuting at Airfield Camp, Netheravon!

We arrive around 22:45 and quickly find the bunk house, rooms quickly allocated but all the cadets are still excited for what lays ahead of them in the morning, reluctantly they all get their heads down dreaming of blue skies and light winds.

The morning arrives all too soon and they are up doing their morning routine still excited from the night before, so once everyone is squared away, we head to the Parachute Centre.

We walk in to this massive aircraft hangar which is now used for the Army Parachute Association and is home to all the military parachute teams, including The Red Devils (Parachute Regiment) The Tigers (Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment) The Royal Signals, The Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME) to name a few, I soon find our point of contact and told we will be called when our instructor finishes the morning brief, so what a great time to grab a Bacon & Egg Banjo for breakfast and await our call over the Tannoy!.

With all fed and watered, we hear the dulcet tones of our instructor calling us into the main hangar, we are greeted by our instructor John Bagwell (Baggers) an extremely experienced skydiver and instructor and I think to myself the cadets are going to learn a lot from him.

Straight into the classroom and the lessons begin. The ground school itself is very informative and easy to understand mixed with theory and practical lessons, glad to see they still teach the PLF! (Parachute Landing Fall). Also, plenty of revision on what they have learnt out of the mock ups (wooden structures that resemble the actual aircraft door, each lesson builds on the last and in no time, they are ready!!

  • Image00010
  • Image00012
  • Image00014
  • Image00041
  • Image00052
  • Image00054
/ 6

The cadet’s level of excitement jumps 200% of the thought of jumping the same day becomes a real possibility, with that the John disappears to talk to the Centres Chief Instructor (CCI) and we all wait with anticipation…

The John reappears and all eyes are on him, he then tells the cadets that the winds are too high and there isn’t a possibility to jump today, with this news there was a noticeable reaction on the faces of the cadets, not too sure if it was disappointment or relief, with this now the end of the ground school John informs the cadets that they will be jumping first thing in the morning, and that the weather looks good for student jumping, a smile returns to their faces, John informs the group that he is unfortunately unable to be there first thing and that another instructor will be taking them up and dispatching them.

With all the ground school completed its was now time to go spend some money in the Drop Zone (DZ) shop I am sure the shop had a bumper day after the cadets had purchased their tops for their jump the following day.

We all decided it was time to go out and grab some dinner, after a meal we stop off at the local supermarket and grab some essentials and head back to the bunk house again still early but everyone was asleep and wishing the night away ready for the following morning and their upcoming baptism into the skydiving world, the morning arrives and no one needed waking up, we cleared the bunk house and was at the centre in record time.

The cadets went into the canteen and waited until the call came over the Tannoy asking for the static line course to assemble at the indoor reception.

We all head to the indoor reception where we meet the instructor who will dispatch the cadets this morning, his name is Steve Dove an extremely experienced Instructor and he starts straight away with a quick refresher on emergency drills to ensure he is happy, once completed all the cadets follow Steve to collect their kit, the realisation that they are about to climb into a perfectly good aircraft and throw themselves out of it is dawning on them and the nerves start to take hold some head to the toilets for a ‘nervous wee” then its into jumpsuits, rigs on helmets on and they all walk outside to the radio room and have their radios fitted then out to the Map to confirm which way the wind is blowing and a final confirmation on which direction they will be facing for landing and it’s onto the flight line, we are told we are Hound 3 and are given a 30 minute call until we board the aircraft and when I mean we I mean WE, that’s right I asked if I could jump before the cadets and was happy the CCI agreed, so off I trot for my ‘nervous wee’!!.

Final flight line checks are completed and the aircraft is waiting for us to board, Steve leads us all to the aircraft and starts to position the cadets in their jump order in the plane, once all are seated its mine turn to sit inside the aircraft, with a short taxi we are lined up on runway 11 ready for take-off, at this time Cadet Munro informs us all that it’s his first time on a plane as the engine hit a high pitch and we start our take off within 15 seconds we are airborne and making our way to 4,000ft.

In no time we are at the required altitude and the nervousness is evident on a number of faces, then the red light comes on so we open the door, again the nervousness goes up a notch and Steve starts his final checks of the students. Green Light Go!! Cadet Edwards is first in the door, and you could tell he was going out that door!! As soon as Steve said Go! He was gone! counting all the way, one thousand, two……….

With Edwards dispatched Cadet Corporal Munro was next and from the look on his face was sheer determination, Look Up!, Go!!, at this point Cdt Cpl Munro nearly lost his chewing gum!, but out he went without hesitation giving us a woo-hoo as he went, the aircraft starts to bank to the left and heads back to start the jump run all over again.

Soon enough we are back on the jump run, red light on, green light on Cadet Staff Sergeant Shackleton is next and his poker face is something to behold not a glimmer of emotion, that was until he was in the door and Go!, as he exited the aircraft all the emotion came flooding back and he was gone.

Next in the door was Cadet Lance Corporal Norton another stone faced and all business and in the zone and no hesitation Go!, he was gone.

Next in the door was Lieutenant Field who could not wait to get in the door and then it came, ‘In The Door’ and like a flash she was there, Go! And another was gone into the wild blue yonder.

Cadet Sergeant Major Nock was up next, no hesitation, in the door she went, Go! and out the door she went taking in the scenery along the way.

Last but by no means least Cadet Corporal Brooks after watching everyone else exit the aircraft was ready to get in the door, “In The Door!’ was the command, and she followed the order, Go! now this word didn’t compute, she looked at Steve and apologised and he said Go! (again) and as the words blended with the noise of the aircraft she was gone, mission complete.

Lt Liz field said: “it is activities like this that make the cadet force unique in offering experiences of a lifetime to young people, who would normally not have these chances”.

Cadet Edwards said “I was first of the cadets to go. Still very nervous I moved to the door to the order, looked up and just went. My canopy opened, all went well, and I felt relieved, enjoying the descent and views over Salisbury plain”.

One of the things that made this weekend possible was the commandant who subsidised the event, in return the cadets started fundraising for some of our favourite charities, The Yorkshire Cadet Trust and ACCT UK. The cadets raised a grand total of £1,856.00.

  • Aimage00009
  • Aimage00012
/ 2