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USAF Freefall TrainingThe Parachute Branch of the USAF Academy (USAFA) built a 34-foot training tower for students in 1971. The tower provided a more realistic simulation of exit, exit position, body position during pull and PLFs. Exit, pull and landing are trained in a rapid sequence that enhanced students skills and added some fear-factor that was not present in other ground simulations.
A student climbed the tower and was assisted by two instructors. Everyone wore a safety harness. The student's harness also had attachment points for risers and control devices. A releasable centerpoint connecting strap had four attachment points to the harness. It was fitted and locked to a cable trolley.
Student gets a pre-check of his equipment.
The mock aircraft door was a replica of the Air Force's AeroCommander aircraft. Once rigged up properly, the student sat in the door. The exit command was given. The student jumped and pretended to be in freefall. The instructors held the student suspended about 4-5 feet from the door.
The student proceeded to go through the pull count and body motions while hanging above the ground.
When the student pulled, the instructors released the center point suspension and the student free fell down another 15 feet. This simulated opening shock.
View from below of suspended student.
View from above of suspended student. Tire tracks are visible on the ground.
The instructors then allowed the student to proceed to the ground by releasing the trolley. The student, now in an upright position, performed a PLF upon reaching the ground.
Each student needed to complete two successful tower jumps before being cleared to do a live jump. Students that needed improvement did more tower jumps.
The USAFA found that the tower training enhanced students' performance. They gave part of the credit to the way the tower induced apprehensions that were never present during typical ground training.
Photos from SkyDiver magazine.
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