Overcoming fear in the wild blue yonder!

It struck me as I slowly made my way from the floor of the plane and stood in the center of the walkway. There were at least 30 other soldiers on the C-140, a military aircraft that was flying over the field where those of us in jump school would soon be taking our first jump.

It was the smell of fear. Not only from me, but from the collective outpouring of the young men in front and behind me. We were all going to flee the safe and secure cabin of the ship and pray that our chutes would open without a flaw. We had practiced this for two whole weeks and had run dozens of miles to get into shape to face the fear and put it all behind us. We could do this. We could jump with joy and become one with the universe as we floated in the sky like a bird viewing the vast openness of the land beneath and all around us.

jump school.jpg

Jump School helped young men and women over fear of flying in the wild blue yonder

All we had to do was to stand up, hook up and shuffle to the door. Even if we faltered and wanted to back out there was a big, burly sergeant whose only purpose in life was to not so gently push us out should the fear of the unkonwn eventually overtake us.

All of us jumped. All survived with nary a broken leg or a broken spirit. All got our wings and will have from that moment war stories to tell our grandchildren about our brief moments in the air. We overcame fear and lived to talk about it.

We all can proudly say today “Airborne – All the Way Sir!”

5 comments on “Overcoming fear in the wild blue yonder!

  1. I remember reading the lyrics to “He ain’t gonna jump no more” in my brothers friends Airborne School Album. To the tune of glory glory hallelujah … No way !

    • contoveros says:

      The song is entitled “Blood on the Risers” “has quite a sad and gory ending:

      He was just a rookie trooper and he surely shook with fright,
      He checked all his equipment and made sure his pack was tight;
      He had to sit and listen to those awful engines roar,
      “You ain’t gonna jump no more!”

      (CHORUS)
      Glory, glory, what a hell of a way to die,
      Glory, glory, what a hell of a way to die,
      Glory, glory, what a hell of a way to die,
      He ain’t gonna jump no more!

      “Is everybody happy?” cried the Sergeant looking up,
      Our Hero feebly answered “Yes,” and then they stood him up;
      He jumped into the icy blast, his static line unhooked,
      And he ain’t gonna jump no more.

      (CHORUS)
      He counted long, he counted loud, he waited for the shock,
      He felt the wind, he felt the cold, he felt the awful drop,
      The silk from his reserves spilled out, and wrapped around his legs,
      And he ain’t gonna jump no more.

      (CHORUS)
      The risers swung around his neck, connectors cracked his dome,
      Suspension lines were tied in knots around his skinny bones;
      The canopy became his shroud; he hurtled to the ground.
      And he ain’t gonna jump no more.

      (CHORUS)
      The days he’d lived and loved and laughed kept running through his mind,
      He thought about the girl back home, the one he’d left behind;
      He thought about the medic corps, and wondered what they’d find,
      And he ain’t gonna jump no more
      .
      (CHORUS)
      The ambulance was on the spot, the jeeps were running wild,
      The medics jumped and screamed with glee, they rolled their sleeves and smiled,
      For it had been a week or more since last a ‘Chute had failed,
      And he ain’t gonna jump no more.

      (CHORUS)
      He hit the ground, the sound was “SPLAT”, his blood went spurting high;
      His comrades, they were heard to say “A HELL OF A WAY TO DIE!”
      He lay there, rolling ’round in the welter of his gore,
      And he ain’t gonna jump no more.

      (CHORUS)
      (slowly, solemnly; about half the speed of the other verses)
      There was blood upon the riparatroopers’were brains upon the chute,
      Intestines were a-dangling from his paratroopers suit,
      He was a mess, they picked him up, and poured him from his boots,
      And he ain’t gonna jump no more.

      • That’s great – I remember the line “they picked him up and poured him from … ” I guess it would make you take a little more care with your rigging!!!

  2. wolfshades says:

    In a way I kind of envy you that experience. Was there a tow-line involved, or did you have to pull your own ripcord? I had to do the tow-line thing. It was a great experience that lasted all of about 30 seconds, and I’m about 99% certain I didn’t jump from the same height you did. Though I’m having a tough time trying to imagine what it must look like from a C-140. I can imagine a Hercules – because I was in one of those one time. Or a two-seater Cesna – from where I made my jump. I think it was originally a 4-seater, but they removed the back seat to make room for us on the floor.

    Anyway – great story! Here’s what I want to know though: if you had the chance, would you do it again? And if so, why? What was it about the experience that impressed you the most? (Conversely: what was it about the experience that turned you off from ever wanting to do it again?)

    • contoveros says:

      Wolfshades:

      I’d jump in a New York minute if I had the chance to do it again!

      As you know, it was one helluva experience that only a few brave (crazy?) people have taken part in. I did it so that I could toughen up before being sent to Vietnam.

      But looking back, I see how it has become a mystical experience for me. Let me explain.
      The moment I looked up and saw that the chute had opened without any problems I relaxed and took in the world around me. I became one with the world around me and felt so insignificant but so expansive at the same time.

      The world was inside of me as much as I was within the bosom of the world, the entire universe. I had no concerns, no worries and no thoughts of anything except those few moments — seconds really — in which I lived totally in the present.

      I didn’t have to pull the cord and chute deployed automatically upon my voluntary expulsion from the aircraft. I don’t know much about the C-140s except for a cadence song that we sang in the army. I even got the nomenclature wrong. It was the “C-130” and not the “C-140.” I guess I had a hearing loss even back in boot camp!

      Here is the cadence song:

      C130 going down the strip
      251 gonna take a little trip
      Stand up buckle up shuffle to the door
      Jump right out and count to four

      If my chute don’t open wide
      I have another one by my side
      If my reserve don’t blossom round
      I’ll be the first one on the ground

      Lo, right- left
      lefty , right lea eft
      lo, right left
      lefty-right left

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