Since the 1940’s, the military has used skydiving to infiltrate behind enemy lines and conduct various missions. This is what differentiates what soldiers and skydivers do because as a soldier, their objective is to accomplish a mission and not have fun.
There are various ways how this is executed by the military. The first is the HAHO or HALO. This stands for high altitude high opening or high altitude low opening jump. This is used by the Special Forces, Navy Seals, Marine Corps Force Recon and the Army’s Green Beret.
Troops wear special gear known as HAPPS or High Altitude Precision Parachute System. It is also called a “stealth parachute” because it is hard for anyone to spot them from the ground. Given that these soldiers are jumping from much higher altitudes, they carry additional equipment like an oxygen tank. Their parachutes are also bigger and measure 360 square feet.
In World War 2 until the present, the army’s airborne troops still use static line jumps to deploy a large force. This is done at a much lower altitude usually less than a thousand feet and they use round parachutes.
The military has their way of having fun. During an air show or sometimes in a competition, a team is sent to participate in the event. The US Army has the “Golden Knights” while the Royal Air Force or RAF has the “Falcons.” The equipment they use here are very similar to what sports skydivers use.
Military skydivers are deployed from large aircraft or sometimes by helicopter. They carry more gear than the average skydiver because aside from the parachute, they also carry weapons and other equipment which is needed in the mission.
Soldiers who are deployed in this manner have to attend schooling just like regular skydivers. A good example is the US Army’s Military Freefall Parachutist School in Arizona. Most soldiers spend about 5 weeks here where an instructor will teach them how to use their equipment.
The program that they go through includes aerial maneuvers, air sense, in air instruction focusing and parachute operating procedures. Each student gets a minimum of 30 freefall jumps including 2 day and 2 night jumps with oxygen equipment and field gear. Once they finish the program, they are now certified skydivers.
People who have retired from the military can teach amateurs and experienced skydivers alike how this is done. With their training, it will be easy for them to adjust and apply a few techniques which are not taught in skydiving centers that could make it safer for them during their next jump.
Military skydiving helped make recreational diving what it is today. Without the lessons learned here, no one will be able to do this for fun so we have to be thankful that there are a few things used in warfare that can be used for peaceful means.
Skydiving is just one example which is probably why there are more than 2 million skydivers in the US and this does not include people who just try it once. You also won’t have a hard time finding a skydiving center since most of these are open all year round.
Is skydiving fun? The answer is yes and with indoor wind tunnels, even those who are scared of heights can feel what it is like to fly.