Cadets and adults from D Company (and a couple of guests from C), Humberside & South Yorkshire Army Cadet Force visited Netheravon the Home of the Army Parachute Association to jump out of a plane from 4000 feet.
Before being allowed anywhere near an aircraft there was a day of ground training. Learning all of the drills to exit the plane and safely fly the parachute back down to the ground. There was also training on what to do if something went wrong, from handling nuisance factors such as twists, to dealing with malfunctions by cutting away and deploying the reserve parachute. Training was delivered by veteran jumpers Russ Mellish and John Bagwall to two groups of cadets and adults.
The training was a mix of classroom and practical session, with repeated confirmation and practice. Every time we thought we had moved on we would hear “in the door, go” and have to respond with the correct drills “one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four thousand, check canopy”, all whilst performing the actions.
After the training it was time to board the aircraft and put it all into practice. A solo static line jump from 4000ft. After an exciting but short flight, the first on any plane for one cadet, the door opened and it was time to go.
Staff Sergeant Rebecca Montgomery, Detachment Commander Endcliffe Hall when asked about her weekend said:
“So when I signed up for the parachute jump last year, it was a case of ‘sure, I can do that’, and was doing it for the ‘old birds’. We had the brief and I felt confident, I knew what I had signed up for and that Netheravon has an incredible safety record. On the day of the jump, I experienced the whole range of emotions from frustration, excitement, anticipation, nerves, frazzled brain from the training and thinking WHAT AM I DOING?? You leave the plane with an initial ARGH but then your training kicks in – 1000 2000 3000 4000 CHECK CANOPY – Is it big? Is it rectangular? Is it free from damage? Can I control it? Once your breathing returns to normal, the air is calm, you get to see fabulous 360 degree views and you feel like you are flying, or some would say falling with grace-ish! A voice in your ear guides you not to land on the direction arrow, and you remember your landing drills – LAND WITH TWO FEET FLAT. So I flare my canopy to slow down and feel that I can land with two feet and take a couple of steps to walk coolly away. Only I didn’t. Oh I landed with two feet, and was so happy that I forgot to take the steps and face planted the buttercup field! Relieved, with pride slightly bruised but happy that I can say ‘I have done that’. This was a big enough thing for me to do as a middle-aged adult, it is massive for the cadets and they have done themselves proud by pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, and everyone has led by example. Brilliant!”
Cadet Robert King said: “By far the best experience I have had in my entire life, the adrenaline was an amazing feeling especially with the team around me. Making new friends is always the best too.
At the end of the weekend six cadets who had completed the training and a solo static line jump were presented with the cadet parachutist badge by chief instructor Stacey Canning. Our newly qualified cadet parachutists are Cadet M Douad (Manor Top), Cadet Corporal C Powell (Birdwell), Cadet Staff Sergent D Adcock (Endcliffe Hall), Cadet Lance Corporal K Brazewell (Hillsborough),Cadet R King (Birdwell),and Cadet Lance Corporal J Boden (Manor Top).
The event was organised by Sergeant Instructor Gemma Randle who deserves a great deal of praise for a very well planned event which has been an amazing experience for everyone involved, as well as jumping twice and doing a tandem jump from 13000ft to support cadets taking part.
A number of our adult staff also jumped during the weekend showing the cadets what it means to overcome their fears; Lieutenant P Meares , Second Lieutenant A Fidment , Staff Sergeant Instructor D Nixon , Staff Sergeant Instructor Montgomery , Sergeant Instructor M Simms. (and myself Captain N Bizzell)
It also would not have been possible without the super support crew of Captain R Williams and 2Lt Kate Jackson, who on top of taking a fair few of the photographs of the event sorted out some challenging transport issues.
If you think you would like to try parachuting keep your eyes open for the next event. If you are not yet a cadet or adult instructor join now using the link below.