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Pathfinder v. ADT

May 26 2009 at 4:19 PM
David Gordon 

Response to Re: Why is it garbage?

Like most hobbies, there is a pretty broad mix of people that have a desire to experience a WWII style parachute jump. Old, young, fat, thin, short and tall. Reads like one of my kids Dr. Seuss books

I believe that Pathfinder has a larger percentage of its membership that is either currently active military or former military. Probably 25 percent are civilian with no previous military experience. Of the overall total, roughly half are mainly interested in WWII commemorative anniversary jumps on the historical drop zones at Normandy and Arnhem. The rest of the group is into doing foreign military wings operations where they do an accelerated refresher with another nations active parachute forces with the goal of being awarded that countries jump wings. The bulk of these opportunities are restricted to people on current or former military service for various reasons. Everyone jumping with Pathfinder is required to have a signed medical statement that they are fit to jump and they must carry their own insurance policy which covers parachuting in foreign countries and provides medical transport if needed back to their home country. My first jump with Pathfinder was from a former Soviet AN-2 Colt with three Brits. One was just out of the SAS and the other two were long since retired, having served with the Parachute Regiment in the early postwar period. So the mix ranged from me with zero experience to the pair who hadnt jumped in thirty years.

WWII ADT has the same mix of civilians with military but there is a bigger percentage of younger airborne reenactors now since the group is based in the central USA. Some of the older active jumpers are former SF from the early to mid 1960s. Ive seen overweight 60+ year old retired army officers come out that never jumped when on active service and also nineteen year olds who had never been inside an airplane prior to their first jump.

As for the injuries I had first mentioned in the other post, there is an even cross section of backgrounds. The dead stick neck injury person was a very tall and overweight civilian but that had no bearing on his failure to make any attempt to control his runaway decent. The person who almost landed on the highway and ended up with a compound fracture broken leg was active duty army. And the person who experienced ground rush was a fit active duty police officer who was former army national guard. I helped him off the DZ after collapsing his chute as he was behind me on the jump. Everything went fine except he didnt flare or bend his legs on landing approach. He says he misjudged his height/descent rate while staring at the approaching ground.

Hard to say why people end up the way they do. The year before I hooked up with ADT, they had a near fatality at Normandy. A very experienced jumper who was active military had a line loop around his T-handle shovel. Watching the video shot from someone on the ground, you can see him falling and messing with the lines for eleven seconds. He pulled his reserve in time to save his life just before impact which shattered both of his legs even though it was fairly soft ground and had lightly rained within the hour. He still had two rows of lines rubber banned inside his reserve case. Bet most people that havent jumped can still tell us about throwing a reserve much quicker than this guy did. Since then, ADT no longer allows entrenching tools to be attached during a jump.

Alex, you might have jumped a PX4 when you were in the UK. It is an X-type that has the provisions for a reserve, has a canvas harness and no canopy releases. Video linked below shows one of the Pathfinder guys landing when we jumped for the 60th Normandy anniversary.

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