"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Military Training, long ago and far away

I had recent occasion to be reminded of some fun military training I did between 18 and 19 years of age. I had two separate opportunities to learn helicopter rappelling. It makes my palms wet to think about it now, but at the time it was a great adventure. It was these pictures (from St Jean, PQ) that brought back the memories – although these are Griffin helicopters, and we were using Twin Hueys “back in the day”

I also recall going 4 per side…perhaps reflecting the Huey’s larger overall dimensions (and design intent, as the Griffin is mostly a civil pattern helicopter painted green).

The rappel master would stand in the middle of the helicopter.  You started sitting on the edge of the floor with your feet dangling out over the skid and a bag of coiled rope between your legs.  Once at altitude (170 feet I think), the master would tell you to dump the rope.  Once the ropes were deployed, he would yell ‘get ready’, at which point you climbed out onto the skid and turned around and released enough rope so as to be almost horizontal.  He would then point at opposing pairs and shout ‘go!’, and you would kick off from the skid, release your brake hand and slide down to the ground quickly…braking before impact.

helicopter rapelling













On my third go of the second time I did this, the UTPM on the skid next to me lost his footing and fell sideways into me, knocking me off the skid.  I was hanging upside down from the rope, with one leg along the skid and the other in space.  The UT started to rappel, but his rope was trapping my leg against the skid, and I could not move it.  I had to wait until he was off the rope to free my leg…so I was the last one down by far.  I recall the rappel master leaning out the door and looking down at me while telling the pilots that they had a hung-up jumper.

I wasn’t frightened at that point, more upset at the UT for knocking me off.  I had rappelled enough that I knew with my brake on I wasn’t going anywhere…even if they had to land with me hanging from the skid.  Fun times.

helicopter rapelling 3helicopter rapelling 2


Written by sameo416

December 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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