Parachuting, an amazing experience | Sunday Observer

Parachuting, an amazing experience

26 June, 2022

By definition parachuting is the jump from an aircraft with a controlled vertical descent to earth by means of a canopy of cloth which increases air resistance and slows the body in motion

The Bard said that his soul was in the sky. An inspiring but now unapproachable so-called boon companion of mine who had a series of classy parachute jumps over the last couple of weeks, as I assume may be engulfed with a wave of unnerving thoughts, breathless as well as intoxicating elevations which may even rise above exhilaration, since just a single parachute jump may transform the panorama of the life of the parachutist.

I often believe that my unapproachable buddy whose potential in his selected field of work and pastime is of paramount significance; he may probably see the frost forms on the window as he flies away. He keeps on looking through the crystals to clouds while imagining himself falling through the frigid air.

This incredibly practicable and orthodoxly capable man who is my dear and near, but another’s bread and butter may feel that the wind is his accomplice as much as his parachute is. He would feel that the raindrops stand all alone. Then he would escape the clouds as much as a skydiving soldier on a mission whose face is decorated with a proud and brave smile; he stands all alone in his descent.

His favourite field of parachuting and my favourite field of imagination is simply a jump - by definition parachuting is the jump from an aircraft with a controlled vertical descent to earth by means of a canopy of cloth which increases air resistance and slows the body in motion.

World War II

I often wish that I could tell my parachutist friend that English linguistics should be thanked to have included the word “Parachute” in the Oxford dictionary, the word is said to be composed of the French word “Chute” that gives the meaning of “To Fall” whereas the Latin prefix “Para” that has the meaning of “To defend or to shield”.

It is also reported that the parachute came into the limelight during the Second World War, as it was largely available in military applications, following the introduction of aeroplanes. It is also rather interesting to note that since its very first appearance, parachute training has been a popular task undertaken and endowed by military establishments.

According to David Bergman of Stockholm University, military parachute training is given for two primary reasons: the first is done as a method of inserting troops behind enemy lines while the second being a method for the personal development of future officers.

No hyperbole remains in declaring the fact that jumping from an aircraft is absolutely an intense experience for any individual. It is frequently described as one of the most exhilarating and frightening experiences in their lives.

“Despite the logical knowledge that a parachute will slow their descent, jumping from above survivable altitude defies the human survival instinct,” David Bergman remarked. Parachuting is an exciting experience: it is also accompanied by rigorous safety protocols.

As per some researchers, the sense of fear felt within the encounter is as realistic as possible. Further, they added that it is involved with a real danger but still within the ethical limits.

As Dominic Utton, a London-based novelist said, parachuting has the ability of providing a distinct and unique combination of adrenalin-filled exhilaration and perfectly calm tranquillity. I infer that the parachutist living within my buddy may have experienced that his life rose to a considerably higher level, to a sort of exhilarating calmness, following his decision to feel the experience of a parachute jump.

World fame

I am impressed by the inspiring words, uttered by Charles Lindbergh, an American aviator whose birthday falls on the very same day on which my great grandfather was born.

This charismatic aviator at the age of 25, won world fame by making the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris in May 1927 and I wish that the late aviator would be a source of inspiration for any would-be parachutists, including my friend as well.

Lindbergh’s following remarks on a parachutist are overwhelming: “I watched him strap on his harness and helmet, climb into the cockpit, and minutes later, a black dot, fall off the wing two thousand feet above our field.

At almost the same instant, a white streak behind him flowered out into the delicate, wavering muslin of a parachute - a few gossamer yards grasping onto air and suspending below them with invisible threads, a human life, a man who by stitches, cloth and cord had made himself a god of sky”.

Within the Nordic region, Sweden in particular, parachute training is quite popular. It is reported that in 1952, the Swedish armed forces introduced paratroopers into the army and four years later in 1956, parachute training was introduced as a method of leadership development for the cadets at the Military academy.

Fatality rate

David Bergman opined “Parachuting (like combat) is an unforgiving activity where individuals can die. When talking about the “potential threat to life” in the extreme context, it is not to be taken merely as a contrasting factor for academic comparison or a mere hypothetical outcome”.

It is learned that the fatality rate in Swedish civilian skydiving is 0.8 per 100,000 jumps. It is also revealed that the incidence rates in the United States are similar with 0.5 deaths per 100,000 jumps. There are approximately 30,000 USPA (United States Parachute Association) members in the United States.

As reported by the USPA, there are around three million jumps made annually in the United States. As per the scientific point of view, parachute training situations are ideal times where the level of stress of the parachutist can be evaluated.

It is learned that during the early days of parachute training, the Americans and the Germans were able to teach a forward landing roll. A couple of researchers in Maryland, USA, in a scientific literature review, remarked “Trainees landed with feet apart and conducted a forward roll across an outstretched arm. The German parachute harness was attached at a single point at the centre of the upper back and consequently, the parachutist landed in a forward-facing position making this type of landing the only option”.

Elite element

The US harness was similar to that of the British harness which got included with the rigging lines that were merged onto risers that are attached to the parachute harness on the top of each shoulder.

The military parachutist is often considered as a part of an elite element in all the armed forces.

Every applicant is required to go through a selection process in which the applicant’s physical fitness and mental determination are evaluated.

The sheer thought of crawling out onto the struts as well as that of the wires that are hundreds of feet above the planet earth, and thereafter abandoning even that tenuous hold of safely gives the parachutist a feeling of anticipation that is surrounded by dread of utter confidence that is restrained by vigilance and caution, enriched with courage salted through with fear and excitement.

No matter whether there is a crowd to watch and applaud the landing of a parachutist, the inner deepest reason for his wanting to jump is nothing but a carefully preserved childhood dream or a desire about which the parachutist may not be able to explain.