Archive for category Parachuting

Iraq: The Falcon Club– Paragliding Over Mosul!

     This looks fun, but what really makes this unique is that this is a paragliding club in Mosul.  I guess you could call this sport, ‘combat paragliding’. lol Either way, I think this is great and I certainly hope this catches on and becomes a popular sport there. –Matt


Mosul Paragliders

Holly Pickett for The New York Times Ziad Abdulsattar lifts his feet when taking off with a parachute with Falcon Club near Mosul.

Paragliding Over Mosul – Because Iraq Just Isn’t Dangerous Enough Already


July 1, 2010

Holly Pickett for The New York Times Members of the Falcon Club paragliding near Mosul.

MOSUL, Iraq – The risk-averse will tell you that it takes a special sort of foolishness to jump from a mountain with just a paraglider strapped to your back.

So what, then, does that make the members of the Falcon Club, an Iraqi group of daredevils who sail through the air above Mosul, which is perhaps Iraq’s most dangerous city?

Holly Pickett for The New York Times Ahmed Assad prepares his parachute before paragliding with the group.

As if flying flimsy contraptions in a war zone was not enough, the Falcon Club faces the added danger of having been a favorite of Saddam Hussein – whose former friends and allies continue to be hunted down by Shiite militias and others.

Indeed, their recklessness leaves even the club’s members seeking a reasonable explanation.

“Flying is like a disease,” said Saba Yasin Fathi, 43, the club’s leader and a former Iraqi air force pilot who lost his left pinky finger to a propeller last year. “You do it once, you want to do it again and again.”

So the Falcon Club endures the suspicions of Iraqi soldiers at Mosul’s innumerable checkpoints who have never heard of a paraglider, have never seen a hot air balloon outside of an American movie and who believe — reasonably — that Iraq is dangerous enough without courting death.

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Aviation: The Twin Otter Turboprop To Go Into Production Again

   This awesome news.  As a smokejumper, this was my favorite aircraft to jump out of.  It was stable, had great power, plenty of room inside, and you could land them anywhere.  They have also been used all over the world and in some crazy climates.  I actually flew in a Twin Otter when I was traveling in Nepal, and it handled the mountain airstrips and high elevations very well.

   This aircraft is also excellent for paracargo, and most pilots that I talked to loved flying this aircraft for such missions. So I am definitely glad to see it back in production again, and I think it was a good move on Viking Air Ltd. to take this on. –Matt


Twin Otter

The rebirth of a Canadian icon

May 14, 2010

By Brent Jang

The robust Twin Otter turboprop earned a reputation for being able to operate in any conditions. Two decades after the last one rolled off the line, it’s taking to the air again thanks to a small Alberta plane maker

On the shop floor of Viking Air Ltd.’s sprawling Calgary plant, Ken Copiak makes his way from one work station to another, inspecting the aluminum shells of Twin Otter planes as they begin to take shape.

The manager of the final assembly plant sometimes has to pinch himself when he sees the fabled bush plane back in production – 22 years after the last Twin Otter, serial number 844, came off the line in Ontario.

Viking workers are now putting the finishing touches on the first Twin Otter assembled in Alberta, the 845th built in Canada since 1965. Subject to certification from Transport Canada, the turboprop will be delivered next month to Switzerland’s Zimex Aviation Ltd., which has earmarked the new-generation plane for oil and gas exploration duties in Algeria.

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Parachuting: Special Forces Get The New MC-6, Marines Get The New T-11

   I perked up when I saw a story mentioning smokejumpers in the Stars and Stripes, and this is what they were talking about. Strategy Page just posted about it as well.  The parachute that they were discussing is called the MC 6,  and it has a different name in the smokejumpers. It is called the FS 14 canopy.  It is a round (shape of the canopy) chute, and it is great for steep descents into tight jump spots surrounded by tall trees.  It is also steerable, and you can get different sizes of chutes, depending on the weight and size of the jumper.  I jumped a large when I was using the canopy in the Forest Service, and they are the ones who primarily use this canopy. I think the smallest spot surrounded by trees that I ever jumped with this parachute was the size of a small house. This parachute struggles in higher winds though, and I like a different parachute for that stuff.

   When it comes to a great all around parachute for rough terrain parachuting, I preferred the RAM Air DC 7 canopy or square canopy. The MC 5 is the military equivalent.  This parachute looks like the sport parachutes you see in the civilian world, and they are very nice.

  This parachute is primarily used by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service is slowly transitioning to this parachute. As we speak, they are doing cross training between the two organizations in order to gain proficiency. The BLM uses this parachute for the Great Basin in the western US, and up in Alaska.  Both areas have higher winds, and big open areas.  But both areas also have their mountains and trees to jump into.  Having jumped rounds and squares (parachute types), I would have to go with squares as being the best all around parachute to use for all types of terrain. What I imagine the SF is doing, is just having the option to use either the MC 5 or the MC 6, depending upon the mission. That is smart, but hopefully they are proficient on both, and muscle memory doesn’t screw them up while using one parachute or the other.  You definitely have to know each parachute and it’s deployment system very well in order to get a good parachuting strategy for getting on the ground safely and in rough terrain.

   As for the T 11, it looks interesting, but I really cannot comment on it.  Just as long as it is stable, easy to control, and gets the guys on the ground safely, then I am all for it.

   Now what is exciting about the T-11 and the MC-6 is that both of these parachutes will make parachute operations a tad more safer, and make the option of airborne operations in war a little more feasible for future missions.  Who knows, maybe the military might take another look at Fire Force  type operations as a viable way of attacking enemies?  Parachuting troops in places like Afghanistan, might be a safer option than flying in with helicopters or driving in via convoys.  Parachuting also distributes the forces more.  One missile or one IED can take out a multitude of troops in a helicopter or vehicle.  Parachuting soldiers who are only exposed in the air for around 40 plus seconds, can make them very spread out and very hard to shoot.

    And because the Taliban are such poor shots, I don’t think they could be very effective at shooting soldiers out of the sky as they parachute to the ground. Especially if there is a sniper team on the ground, or some airship circling around and lighting up any enemy forces that want to take a shot. With good night vision kit, and safer parachutes, night time operations might also be more feasible as well.  I am sure airborne troops have thought about all of this stuff for our current wars, and it would be interesting to hear some of their ideas. You just don’t hear a lot about parachuting operations in this war, and it might be worth some further exploration.  Especially if the military is going to invest millions of dollars into two new canopies for the troops, as well as cycle thousands of troops through airborne training. By the way, bravo to the guys at Paraflite for making some awesome parachutes. –Matt


MC 6

MC 6 parachute.

T 11 parachute. 

Special Forces look to smoke jumpers for new parachutes

By Warren Peace

May 4, 2010

STUTTGART, Germany — Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group recently got a chance to try out the Army’s new MC-6 parachute, which they say will be put to good use when dropping into tight combat zones in Afghanistan.

The MC-6 is more maneuverable than the aging MC-1, which has been used by Special Forces soldiers for years, and the Stuttgart-based soldiers are the first unit in Europe to train with the new chute.

When searching for a new parachute that could drop them into a small landing area, Army Special Forces looked to the smoke jumpers, who are tasked with descending into the heart of Rocky Mountain forest fires, said David Roy, program leader for the MC-6.

“The U.S. forest services have been using this canopy for about 16 years now,” Roy said. “They use it to get into postage-size drop zones in the Rockies as they go to put out fires.”

Plus, the small drop zones and high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains are very similar to the conditions faced by airborne soldiers in Afghanistan, said Maj. Jason Morneault, assistant product manager for Program Manager Clothing and Individual Equipment for the Army.

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India: Terror Group Lashkar-e-Taiba Planning Paraglider Attacks In India

   Wow, these guys are getting innovative. The attack using a paraglider opens up all sorts of ideas and problems-both for the terrorist and for the defenders.  I believe many paraglider kits can be used for tandem jumping, so they could conceivably haul a payload of equal weight. So that could be a payload of maybe 150 to 250 lbs? Maybe more, because I know some military parachutes that can carry up to 300 lbs, along with the parachutist.  But we are talking about paragliders, and that is a little bit out of my lane.

   Next would be the possibilities with that setup.  You could insert one individual or you could insert several individuals into key attack positions, or you could just fly the things straight into the target and detonate.  You could also swarm on to one target and just keep flying human bombs into it until the target is completely destroyed.  Or you could do the Chechen ambush, and fly a bomber into the response teams (EMS and Tactical), after they come in to respond to the first attack.

   As for how they could pull it off.  I could see them towing a paraglider near the target using a car or motorcycle, and then they just fly in like that. Or they could take off from a nearby mountain.  I guess they could also use a backpack fan, but that would be pretty damn noisy.  They would have to cut the engine near the target or something.

   So what is next?  Using a birdman suit or just pushing suicide bombers out of planes and have them glide into a target, like some kind of human JDAM? Or how about these guys just paragliding over the target and dropping mortars on target? Or they could just be looking at using these for insertions, as another way to do a Mumbai Part 2 style attack.

     What’s the counter to this is the question?  Shotguns, mini-guns, trained eagles, or drone archers flying micro drones  into these guys? lol  Who knows, but it is definitely food for thought. –Matt



Terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba ‘planning paraglider attacks’ in India

January 25, 2010

Rhys Blakely in Mumbai

Indian intelligence officials suspect that the terrorist group behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks is planning another audacious strike on the country — this time from the air, using suicide bombers flying paragliders.

U. K. Bansal, an Indian Home Ministry official, told reporters that the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba faction was thought to have acquired a number of the gliding parachutes.

“We have intelligence reports that LeT has purchased 50 paragliding kits from Europe with an intention to launch attacks on India,” he said.

No other details were given, but security levels have been hiked across the country ahead of tomorrow’s Republic Day celebrations, one of India’s biggest holidays.

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Paracargo: The On-again, Off-again Saga Of Airdrops In Haiti

    Only in a military briefing like this, where in one breath they say that air drops are unacceptable because of a lack of security, yet in the next breath, the idea of parachuting soldiers in to provide that security was out of the question. Or they say that parachuting in would have sent the wrong message?  Sooooo thousands of troops pouring in by airport or by ship sends a better message?

   I don’t know folks.  I think as soon as we said we were going to help, and do everything in our power to help, airdrops and securing those drop zones for such a thing, should have been considered.  Wrong message or not, air drops send the right message of ‘doing all we can to help’.  It would have also put tools in the hands of the people, along with food and water, to hold them over until the main effort gets under way.

   At least they dropped what they did, but how many days were wasted until they finally came to this logical conclusion? In the fire services, I would have been fired (if that is even possible in the federal government) for such a poor initial attack response. That, and an investigation. –Matt


DOD Background Briefing with Senior Military Officials from the Pentagon About Haiti Operations

Presenter: Senior Military Officials

January 20, 2010

(airdrops and parachuting in troops section)

Q     Could you explain this on-again, off-again story of air drops: first it was no way, then there was an air drop, then another — more were scheduled for today and, as I understand, they didn’t happen. So what’s going on with air drops?

SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL 1: Yeah, two things on that point, if I may. First off, air drops can be, obviously, very successful and very quick. And we know that yesterday they were both. They brought in over 15,000 meals and 15,000 liters of water.

     There are two requirements for air drops.  We just explained one, which is the actual availability of the aircraft. And sometimes you have to divert that aircraft to another mission, because in the — in the particular case — again, bringing 2/82 out of their home station, you know, either you bring the food and the water from there or you bring the people from there or you bring the trucks from there. So does that — that tradeoff about what gets on the aircraft is point number one.

     And then point number two is, you have to have a safe and secure area to drop the water and the food: either that there is — it’s a controlled area, that there are either U.S. forces, MINUSTAH forces or government of Haiti forces there that can actually supervise the area, and it doesn’t become a scene where people are injured, and instead of distributing food and water, it becomes just — you know, a calamity, because people are crawling in to get there. So you want to secure the area.

     With that amount of food and water, you need a big area. And in the aftermath of the quake, a lot of the displaced and the victims moved to the areas that we would have normally used for either LZs or PZs, and places where we would have distributed food and water or picked up people. And part of that would have been, for example, our embassy evacuation plan. So we had to make sure that the area we were going to drop the food and water in was, indeed, safe and secure.

Q     The — early on, was there ever any — and you may have just answered this — any consideration to jumping the 82nd itself in; they then set up — you know, you’re clear, you got a landing zone, and then vehicles and supplies come in?

SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL 1: I would have to, you know, defer to the commander on the ground out there. I don’t think at this — from my point of view right here, I don’t believe there was a conscious decision to do that, because we didn’t think that was a — the prudent thing to do. It was a —

Q     It wasn’t really considered?

SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL 1: No.  And it’s — and there’s also an issue of optics here, because we are there to assist and enable. This is not a jump into a combat zone; this is not a jump.

     So we’re there to assist and enable. It’s a peaceful nation. It’s a very dramatic and, as General Keen said, epic proportions, the disaster there. And we’re there to get there quickly and to help. And to parachute in or to drop in, it was not required and would have probably sent the wrong message.

Q     Did you say there will be more airdrops that you’re planning?

SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL 1: Yeah. That is on the horizon. We’re always looking at the opportunity to do that. Right now the aircraft for today are filled, and we’re looking at moving cargo and personnel and drugs. But, you know, when we get that request, those are decisions that General Fraser and General Keen will make about the appropriate time and place to do that.

Link to briefing here.


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News: NGO’s to Deploy Airborne Medical Teams in South America

     I talked with some dude from this group awhile back. They found my info somewhere and were asking about smokejumping operations and developing their own air operation. It looks like they will finally be doing the South America air drop thing, to fix a runway near a remote village and do some remote medicine. Great concept, and I hope it takes off as it get’s more attention.

     SOAR will be doing a partnership with RAM, and it should be cool to see how this pans out. Hopefully no one breaks a leg doing this shit. ha ha

     Air Drop Assist is the training side of the operation. For a small fee, they will train you for paracargo and parachuting operations. This group is working with both RAM and SOAR, and these are the guys I think I talked with. -Head Jundi


This is a great little video about what they do.


SOAR to deploy airborne medical team in South America
On March 25th of 2008, SOAR will send its airborne trained medical personnel on an important mission in Guyana. SOAR, in partnership with RAM Airborne, will deploy medical and non-medical skydivers into remote areas of the Guyana. Read the rest of this entry »

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