27 June 2018

On Friday the 22nd June 11 cadets and two staff members set off to the Army Parachute centre in Netheravon. After a successful expedition in 2018 this is now becoming an annual event supported by SACFA and the ACFA. 
On arrival, the cadets began to set up camp ready for the early start to commence ground training. On completion they will then attempt their first static line jump.
The cadets were in great spirits on the journey down but still unsure of what lay ahead and whether they could actually push themselves to leave a perfectly good aircraft.
Dawn arrived, bringing a beautiful morning and perfect conditions to parachute. The view across Salisbury plan was a welcome distraction. Once breakfast was consumed, we were summed to the hanger to meet our instructor Paul Aubrey-Rees, who happened to be a dead ringer for our own commandant. 
So, it began. The cadets were put through their paces. Starting with understanding how the parachute works, aircraft drills, exit drills, canopy checks, nuisance drill. Malfunction drills, reserve drills, canopy control, landing drills and parachute landing fall. As well as wind direction, understanding landing patterns, holding areas. Once the final written exam was complete and the instructor was satisfied all cadets could confidently and competently carry out their reserve drills our jump was added to the manifest. The countdown begins. 60-minute, call, 20-minute call. The cadets had laid out their equipment, ready to go. The rig (parachute) helmet, radio and Alti (altimeter) 
Outside, enjoying the sunshine was a dozen or so, anxious parents who had decided to make the trip from Surrey to Netheravon to watch their sons and daughters throw themselves out of an aircraft at 3500ft. Nervous tension inside the hanger and out.
Its time, ‘kit up’ came the shout. As expected the cadets immediately did as instructed, silently without fuss. Helping and guiding each other with harness and straps.
As we went to the flight line for final checks, the cadets parents got to see their sons and daughters kitted up and ready to go and had an opportunity to offer some words of encouragement and take some photos. 
Final checks complete, landing patterns briefed, we heard the distance sound of our aircraft (Hound) coming to land for us. Cadets and one member of staff loaded, clipped in and checked, Hound started its bumpy take off….. this is it, no going back now.
At 3000 feet the door was opened and the air rushes in. The first time for many to be on an aircraft and someone opens the door. 3500 the first call for a jumper to ‘Get in the door’ followed by ‘Look up’ and ‘GO’ 
One by one all descend in the PLA (parachute landing area) There is nothing but huge smiles as they gather their chutes and walk back to the hanger to book back in. Contemplating what they have just achieved, high fives and excited chatter is in abundance. THEY DID IT!!!