“How long does it take a UV-18 “Twin Otter” to climb to 2,500, discharge it’s cargo, land and be ready for the next load? Not long enough! At 95 degrees, Friday was the hottest day of week two, and possibly the hottest day of tryouts yet. A perfect day for the Cadre to test our endurance. The plan was simple, pack where you land, re-rig your smoke bracket, slam down some water, get your gear checked and be waiting on the aircraft. On average the turnaround was about nine minutes. Our Cadre were constantly reminding us “if you miss the aircraft you don’t jump, if you don’t jump we cannot evaluate your performance, if we cannot evaluate your performance you will go home”. Needless to say we were moving faster than we ever have.
Week two wasn’t all speed and sweat. We had the unique opportunity of being shadowed by the Pentagon Channel. Between packing, jumping, and CRW (cutting, raking, weeding) we also had interviews. It was a different experience trying to get our tasks completed with a camera and a microphone mere inches from us. We were assured the situation is no different when traveling with the Demonstration Teams. Feeling comfortable in the presence of cameras and microphones is just one more stressor of an already demanding program.
Every morning is nearly the same routine. Physical training at O-five hundred. Followed by breakfast and loading the bus. Our bus ride of course is filled with narration practice, our safety briefing, and a weather forecast. We setup the drop zone with at least two of the Cadre timing us and motivating us to move faster. Then begins the training. Long days filled with parachute packing, debriefs, critiques, and coaching. It is always a relief when the red bullhorn sounds with ” Break It Down”. Granted the bus ride home will be filled with practice interviews, more narration training and debriefs. But we are all relieved to know the day is done, even more so when it ends an entire week. Bring on Week Three !”