The US Army Airborne School, located at Ft. Benning, Georgia, is one of the activities cadets may participate in between their MSII and MSIII year. The school is three weeks long and consists of ground week, tower week, and jump week. The purpose of Airborne School is to qualify in the use of the parachute and to develop leadership, confidence, and excellence through training.
Ground week consists of learning the PLF. This is known as the parachute landing fall. The instructors claim anyone can fall out of an aircraft but conducting a proper PLF will prevent injuries. Ground week also focuses on other individual skills such as going out the mock door, the APFT, the 34 foot tower and the LDA (Lateral Drift Apparatus). To proceed to Tower week students must qualify in proper PLFs on the LDA, proper exit out of the mock door, and pass the APFT.
Tower week consists of the activities completed during Ground week only with a team based effort. During Tower week students will go in groups of 4 off the 34 foot tower, master techniques to avoid parachute malfunctions, train in the suspended harness, complete mass mock door exits, and my favorite the SLT (swing landing training). Some students may have the chance to train on the famous 250 foot tower to simulate falling and correct landing. To proceed to Jump week students must qualify on the 34 foot tower and the SLT, along with finishing the runs during PT in the mornings.
Jump week consists of 5 jumps out of the C130 or C17 aircraft landing on Fryar Drop Zone in Alabama. Students prior to jumping will run from the barracks to the harness shed and conduct pre-jump training. After training students then get strapped into their harnesses and wait for their chalks to be called their turn. The first two jumps are known as Hollywood, jumping with parachute and reserve only, and are conducted on the first day. The next day students will conduct their first combat jump, jumping with a ruck sack by your feet and a weapons case on your left side. Your first jump this day will be a combat jump and your fourth a Hollywood. The last day consists of one last jump. The last and fifth jump is a return to the combat jump and this time it is performed at night.
Airborne graduates are among the most elite soldiers in the US Army. Every Army Ranger and US Special Forces Soldier is AIRBORNE qualified. AIRBORNE!