Seems like a lifetime ago now, but there was time when I jumped from perfectly good airplanes. The Army trained me and paid extra money for me to be on jump status. I was a parachute rigger before I became an infantry officer. A parachute rigger is the soldier who packs parachutes for those who jump. We often told jumpers that if the parachute did not work to bring it back and we would exchange it. Or, if it should not open after jumping out of the plane, you have the rest of your life to get it open. After all, no one ever died from jumping out of a plane, it was always that sudden stop at the bottom.
OK enough of the rigger jokes. Riggers had to be ready to jump with any random chute they pack to maintain their status. To graduate from rigger school personal pack phase, you had to pack the chute in a time-period by the book and then go jump with it. I can assure you I sweated over that canopy as I packed it that day. It was a do or die test.
Have you ever noticed that there are holes in some parachutes? Would you like to jump with such a chute? When I was jumping, this type of chute was called a T-1 canopy. The holes are there intentionally and provide a forward thrust of twelve miles per hour. This gives you some steering capability to allow you to land closer to your desired target. Don’t mistake this type of chute for those you see landing in football stadiums hitting a small six inch target.
The holes on each style help one reach a destination. They provide some direction. Leaders should never theoretically jump from a plane and see where they land. Leaders choose where they need to go to get the job done. They should time a jump carefully so the goal is close to where they leave the plane. All of this calls for what I call wise risk. To hit that spot, you must have the ability to steer and know where the organization should go. Determining your target should not happen on the way to the ground. Plan carefully, pack your chute, calculate the wind, and jump, keeping your eye on the target. Don’t just jump and hope you land in the right spot.
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