Parachute Descent Training

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kristin Mack
  • 301st Fighter Wing
Preparation plays a big part in every pilot's life. Before every flight, they take many steps to gear up for their ride: don their antigravity suit and helmet; pack their life preserver; review their check list. But how do they really prepare for an emergency situation? 

Emergency parachute descent training, offered through life support, could be the most valuable training available. This training allows pilots hands-on, true-to-life training that could successfully prepare them for any unforeseen event that may lay ahead. 

"The reason why we provide this training is so [pilots] never have to think about it, they just react," said Senior Master Sgt. Larry Owens, 301st Fighter Wing life support. 

Sergeant Owens revealed that this training is required every 18 months for all pilots, regardless of what type of aircraft they fly. It consists of procedures for: recall post-egress, post-opening and recall parachute landing. 

Training originally began in a manual setting, where the trainees were strapped to a tower and suspended six feet in the air, but this only allowed them to test out their equipment. Now, with the acquirement of the virtual reality parachute decent training, they'll experience parachute descension with their own eyes through three-dimensional technology. The 301st Fighter Wing was the first unit in the entire Air Force Reserve Command to receive this equipment when it arrived six years ago. 

The pilots, who can choose one of the many scenes available with this training, such as a forest scene with smoke or wilderness, begin their adventure by hooking up to a harness and a state-of-the-art headset. Once they are connected to the unit, they look up to check their equipment then begin descending from the air while simultaneously guiding their parachute to the safest landing. 

"It is much more realistic than the old version, said Sergeant Owens. "They look up, react and then get instant feedback." 

After the trainee completes the course they immediately review a detailed, computerized printout with their instructor. It's broken down into several categories explaining how they did in each area. It rates and charts information such as facing into the wind, ground speed oscillations, distance from the target spot, toggle handling and brakes. 

With this feedback they can see what they did wrong and keep this information to help them prepare for next time. Through each session they gain new insight and a better understanding of the whole descension process. 

"We give them enough confidence that, if anything happens and they eject, they'll be safe and the pilots know that," said Sergeant Owens.
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