- THE PARACHUTE SCHOOL
THE PARACHUTE SCHOOL
In May 1941 the Provisional Parachute Group was activated at Ft. Benning, Georgia under the command of Colonel William C. Lee. The headquarters element set up a school for parachutists and this became the Parachute Section of the Infantry School. Less than a year later on March 23, 1942 the Airborne Command was established and control of the Parachute Section was transferred over from the Infantry School. Under the Airborne Command, the Parachute Section was expanded and on 15 May 1942 it became The Parachute School. The Parachute School, consisting of 140 enlisted men and 82 officers under the command of Major George P. Howell had been assigned the task of training men into the newest and most elite force in the US Army, the Paratroops.
Training at The Parachute School ran four long weeks with each week or stage covering a different aspect of parachuting. Week one or "A" Stage was dedicated to physical conditioning and ensuring each man had the strength to control his canopy while drifting towards the earth and the stamina to survive after being dropped behind enemy lines. Stages "B" and "C" were filled with instruction on parachute control and jump tower training. Not until week four, or "D" Stage, were troopers put through the rigors of jumping and packing their chutes. After completion of their fifth and qualifying jump the troops were awarded silver wings, the Parachutist Badge. Not until September of 1943 were night and tactical jumps incorporated into the qualification course at The Parachute School.
Today The Parachute School, run by the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team, is as close as you can get to WWII paratroop training. Our nine day course is the most professional and detailed course available in the world. From the moment you walk through the hangar doors at Frederick Army Air Field, or step out the door of our C-47 on your fifth and qualifying jump, you will be immersed in an atmosphere of a bustling training facility straight out of the WWII.
Once you report to the headquarters staff, you will be checked in insuring you have all of the required equipment and paperwork for the course. Following check in you will be taken upstairs to the student barracks and assigned a bunk with linens. This is where you and your fellow classmates will not only sleep, but also build camaraderie with one another as you study course material, and polish boots in preparation for the following day. Each morning prior to breakfast you and your fellow classmates will make your bunks and ensure the barracks are in a neat and orderly condition. On the morning of day one you will be introduced to the senior cadre of the team and your instructors for the course.
Following introductions, training will begin with classroom instruction that covers such subjects as history of the airborne, introduction to parachuting, parachute equipment and handling, and proper nomenclature. That afternoon, instruction will continue with one of the most important aspects of the course, the Parachute Landing Fall (PLF). Throughout the week you will be trained in jump commands and actions in the aircraft, proper exit, body position, canopy control, PLFs, and emergency procedures. Each one of these tasks will be repeated over and over again until it becomes second nature to you.
On test day you will have to demonstrate to the instructors that you have become proficient in these skills. After passing written and practical exams you will move onto the jump phase of training, where you will finally step from the door of a C-47 at 1500 feet. All five of your jumps will be made from our C-47, Boogie Baby. Following jump operations you will be taken into the classroom to review footage for critique. If additional training is needed, it will be conducted and jump operations will then resume.
Following your qualifying jump yourself and fellow classmates will graduate together from the course, and awarded the gold Parachutist Badge. These gold wings, pinned on your chest by a veteran of World War II and based on the original silver wings created by Captain Yarborough in 1940, are in recognition of your accomplishment and should be worn with pride. Not only are these wings a recognition of your five jumps from a C-47 aircraft, but also a tribute to the men who earned them during the Second World War by joining the most elite force of the time in order to destroy the Axis forces and restore peace throughout the world.
During your time with the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team you will see that safety is a top priority and is evident in everything we do. From training cadre, to parachute riggers, to jumpmasters, we have a highly dedicated, safety conscience staff whose mission is to not only train you, but to also provide a safe, rigorous, and personally rewarding experience. Professionalism is our culture.
Here at The Parachute School, "We Lead From The Sky."