A quick video of what I used to do in the Army ... or at least the fun part of it. To put things in perspective -
- On a typical jump, the altitude of the aircraft when we exited was between 800 - 1200 feet. It took less than 2 minutes to reach the ground.
- Most of us we wearing between 50 and 150 lbs of stuff (including parachute, harness, reserve chute, weapon, gear, food and water).
- As the company RTO, I carried an 18 lb radio and two 6 lb spare batteries as well as my other gear, so my load was usually close to 150 lbs. I only weighed about 140 lbs at the time.
- Preparations for an airborne operation typically begin 12-18 hours prior to jump time, and you're in the harness with your gear strapped on for at least the last 4-6 hours of that.
- The aircraft we jumped from most often were C-130s and C-141s. These are not comfortable aircraft (see the pic below - the jumpmasters had to walk on our legs and gear to get from one end of the plane to the other). The C-141 in particular had to slow down to almost stall speed in order for us to be able to exit safely.
- There were routinely 5-10 aircraft flying in a line during these jumps, all putting paratroopers into the air simultaneously. It often got pretty crowded in the sky and you had to watch out for other paratroopers.
- If you watch carefully, you'll see several of these paratroopers do a complete flip after exiting the aircraft. This is a combination of bad body position on their part and being caught in the exhaust of the jet engine from the aircraft. Little guys like me tended to get flipped around quite a bit.
- We almost never did these jumps during the day time. In my three years as a paratrooper with, only 5 of my jumps were day jumps and 3 of those were during Airborne school. Most of our jumps happened between 1 and 4 am.