Chances taken are worth the fear factor

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Chances taken are worth the fear factor
Glasgow Daily Times
It’s very odd to me that I do not fancy flying in planes. I can’t stand take-offs or landings.

Even though I had an engineering class at the University of Kentucky that focused on the aerodynamics of planes and how they fly in the air, it still seems a bit, well, magical, that several tons of aircraft can just coast through the air.

Helicopters are a different matter though. They have big propellers turning and I can completely believe they are able to fly, so I don’t mind riding on them.

That’s a good thing since it seems at the beginning of my military career I have done nothing but ride in choppers and I am not even a pilot.

This past drill I covered a Special Forces group practicing a cursory “refresher” jump out of a helicopter.

The training is so if ever someone somewhere decides that soldiers need to jump from flying objects and parachute into an objective D-day style, they will be ready.

For the life of me, I can’t think of a single time I saw something like that happen in Iraq. The closest I saw was soldiers being dropped off in the middle of nowhere by chopper. Anyway, they still train on jumping and I decided I wanted to jump too.

I am not sure why I decided this since I am freaked out by heights in the worse way and I mean, come on, jumping out of a bird with nothing but a possibly malfunctioning parachute – sounds safe.

Nevertheless as I went up with the first group of jumpers, strapped to my seat near an open door I was envious of the three guys whose feet were dangling out the sides of the aircraft.

I had watched the “jumpmaster” check their equipment and strap their safety lines in with a certain fascination. There was no way in the blue moon I was going to be able to jump without the proper training, and definitely not with a Special Forces unit, but I could dream.

We finally reached the appropriate altitude and the jumpmaster began screaming for soldiers to jump the bird.

I leaned forward expectantly. I don’t know what I thought a soldier sliding from a bird would look like, but I guess it wasn’t what I saw.

The first guy leaned forward out the open door and … disappeared. I literally felt something clutch at my heart as one by one each soldier sitting in a precarious position quickly disappeared out an open door.

I watched their yellow lines hooked to bird run out and then dangle limply out the back door. I couldn’t even see them anymore after that terrifying drop through nothing since the chopper wasn’t turned properly to see the parachutes deploy.

I reasoned with myself that they had parachutes, this was quite a normal exercise for thousands everywhere and that the Army even had a school for this very thing, but it didn’t matter.

After that first group of soldiers, I went up with the bird again and watched it happen over and over. I knew then that I wasn’t so sure I’d like jumping out of the aircraft after all.

However, I still knew that if in some crazy, bizarre twist of military fate, if the jumpmaster had turned to me and offered a parachute and said “Okay, when I tap you on the head I want you to fall out and pull this string after you count to six,” I would have said “Okay” and done it with big saucer-like eyes.

Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that, but I guess I just like to take the opportunities given to me.