is a person who supervises the jumping of paratroopers
or other parachutists
from an airplane
. They are typically experienced senior jumpers.
In military applications, they are used for static line
and freefall jumps.
In Canada, Jumpmaster training is conducted for the Canadian Forces
by the Canadian Forces Land Advanced Warfare Centre
at CFB Trenton
in Trenton, Ontario
. The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
is the only Primary Reserve
unit with jumpmasters.
Typically those selected for training are very skilled as parachutists. As a minimum, they are senior Corporals who have completed leadership training.
Separate courses are conducted for static line jumpmasters and freefall jumpmasters (FJMs).
There are two types of Jumpmasters within the US Army; Military Free Fall and Static Line. This explanation will be focused on Static Line Jumpmasters, or generally just referred to as Jumpmaster. Jumpmasters are easily identifiable in Army formations by their ability to earn advanced rating for their Parachutist Badge. Senior Parachutists are entitled to a Star atop their wings while Master Parachutists wear a Star and Wreath. During airborne operations Jumpmasters identify themselves to jumpers by wearing a bright red or yellow armband. Red is worn by the active Jumpmaster Team. Yellow is worn by any Jumpmasters who are jumping, but not actively participating on the Jumpmaster Team. In addition to this armband all members of the Jumpmaster Team wear a fixed-blade knife on their lower leg. The purpose of this knife is in case a jumper somehow becomes entangled during the exiting process, becoming a towed parachutist, and must be immediately cut free.
In order to obtain this coveted rating an individual must hold the minimum rank of Corporal and have no less than 12 military static line parachute jumps. The individual must also be a graduate of The United States Army Advanced Airborne School. This school is roughly three weeks in length and consists of five key examinations:
- Nomenclature Exam
- Pre-Jump Training Exam
- Written Exam
- Practical Work In Aircraft (PWAC)
- Jumpmaster Personnel Inspection (JMPI)
Generally speaking, it takes a potential jumpmaster at least two attempts to pass the course (less than 30% of attendees earn a first time Go). In recognition of this, returning students are commonly referred to as “alumni” by their Black Hat instructors. There is also a common joke that those who pass on their first attempt actually tested out early of the “full six week course”.
Duties of a Jumpmaster included:
- Organizing and mustering their “stick” or “chalk” of jumpers.
- Inspecting all items of equipment prior to loading of the aircraft (to include ALICE or MOLLE pack, M1950 series Weapon Case, and any Special Items of Equipment).
- Inspecting all jumpers for proper donning, fit, and serviceability of their helmet (Ballistic or Advanced Combat) and parachute (T-10D, MC1-1D, T-11).
- Confirmation of in-flight navigation in accordance with flight diagram and Navigation Officer.
- Safety inspection of the Paratroop Door, Jump Platform, and Clear to the Rear of the dropping aircraft.
- Identification of in flight reference points.
- Proper control of the Paratroop Door during exit.
During the above stated activities a fellow Jumpmaster acts as his Safety and assists primarily with Practical Work In Aircraft. In addition to the roles of Jumpmaster and Safety a Jumpmaster may be called upon to act as the Drop Zone Safety Officer (DZSO) or Departure Airfield Control Officer (DACO). The DZSO inserts into the drop zone prior to the jump and is on hand with the pathfinder team to aid the drop aircraft in navigation. The DACO works at the airfield which the jumpers are lifting off from and functions as a liaison with the US Air Force.
Notable movie performances of Jumpmasters are included in The HBO series “Band of Brothers - Day of Days” and “A Bridge Too Far”. However, perhaps the most hilarious to fellow Jumpmasters is that of John Wayne in “The Green Berets” when he exits the aircraft without ever hooking his static line to the anchor line cable.