Modern Poetry | First Jump

Modern Poetry – First Jump. The motto of the RAF Parachute Training School is ‘Knowledge Dispels Fear’ yes, right, I believe you.  Normally the first exit for a trainee Parachutist would be from a balloon or a helicopter, neither were available at RAF Akrotiri so it was from a C130 ‘Hercules’ Configured with an entry ramp  and two side doors for parachutist exit for this exercise.   The technique I write about is probably long out of date but I write as I saw and felt, no apologies for my memory.   Not really a poem but a story.

PJI –                  Parachute Jump Instructor.
Loadmaster – NCO in charge of the aircraft interior.
Mae West –      Life Jacket.
Static line –     A steel wire running the length of the aircraft to which parachute strops are  attached.
Bungee –          Strong elastic cords (2) with hooks at each end, used to secure canvas within which the reserve parachute is contained.

First Jump

Four am, hung over
Draw Parachute.
Check, stitches, rip
Salt water rotted.
Draw Mae West.
Beach landing
Soft unless the road.
Helmet on
Fit Mae West and harness.
Check harness again
Sit on aircraft pan
Talk and joke.
Engines running
Cloying smell of exhausts.
Man next to me
Anxious, nervous.
Is this ok
Is this right.
For God’s sake
Shut up.
Making me nervous
Whine of turbines.
Board aircraft.
Two sticks
First on.
Back of aircraft.
Sit in canvas seat
Mr. nervous
Front of me.
Ramp closes
Engines rev.
Taxying to
Take off.
Engines roar
Ultimate crescendo.
Jerk and we are off
Rolling faster.
To flight
Side doors open.
Dust and rubbish
Rise, Jesus!
Jokers now silent
Silent men now joking.
All are nervous
Some giggle.
‘Stand  up’
Shouts the PJI.
All stand, hook up
Static line.
I check Mr Nervous
He forgets me.
Shake him firmly
He is panicking.
‘Check my bloody kit’
He does but needs.
Me to check his again
One of the bungees.
Securing my reserve
Pings off.
Will the reserve deploy?
I look for help
‘Red on’, we shuffle.
Leading leg
With other trailing.
Tiller girl style.
Load master spots
My problem.
Green on
More shuffling.
Holding static line
Replaced bungee.
Men are now
Minds reflex to stay aboard
Nearing door.
Mr nervous
Puts both hands on door.
PJI throws him
Unceremoniously, to the rear.
Braver man than
I, to refuse.
Both hands on reserve
In the door.
Exit, eyes closed
Slip stream.
Boots above head
Crack from chute.
Check lines
Above and behind.
Look around
At sky, aircraft, comrades.
And the sea
Assess wind drift.
Descending slowly.
Gathering speed
Express train.
Remember drills
Bend knees.
Turn feet for
Forward roll.
Sack of spuds
No breath.
Bones ok
Strong wind.
Hit quick release
Gather and bag.
Easy peasy.
Looking forward
To the next.
This afternoon
Until the fear returns.
Thinking of Mr nervous
His shattered pride.
No way back
A braver man
Than I.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.