Jumping out of airplanes (!)

VXE-6 aeromedical rescue team doing a parachute jump at Pole

We were visited by a VXE-6 aeromedical rescue team that decided to leave the airplane before it landed..

VXE-6 aeromedical rescue team doing a parachute jump at Pole

Here come two more of them!

the skydiving team descending

And here they come...this photo from Tadashi Yogi.

the skydiving team descending

So of course folks came out to watch:
From left, Jim Buline, Lee Sundblad,
Jim Mathews, Craig Whan, Tony Quayle,
? (behind Tony), ?.

the pararescue team landing

I assumed they were aiming to land at the Pole, but most of them ended up between the dump and the old construction camp...perhaps they were trying to stay clear of the aircraft which had circled to land. Dick Spaulding just told me that he usually spotted the jumps, but this time he was letting the navigators do it for the training...which after all is what this exercise was all about.

the jump aircraft landing

Someone else landing behind our emergency cache of drummed fuel. At far right is the remains of the old construction camp after the fire. The surviving Jamesways were being torn down. Also visible is the tall false front of the Last Chance Saloon.

the jump aircraft landing
Here's the aircraft landing, as some of the jumpers make their way
toward the station. Notice in this and the previous photos...at far
left the wreckage of 917 is clearly visible.

bringing the jumpers back to the station

Anyway, they had to get picked up by one means or another.

the team getting a ride to the ceremonial Pole

so that they could do their thing...

celebration after Dick Spaulding's 1000th jump
Actually what was happening was the celebration of Chief (PRC) Dick Spaulding's 1000th jump, here he is getting big orange wings pinned on, to document the occasion...19 January 1977. Other participants in this event have been brought to my attention by Dick Spaulding: celebration after the jump
Yeoman Second (YN2) Wellington ("Tad") Jones,
Disbursing Clerk Third (DK3) Dale Overfors,
Hospital Corpsman Second (HM2) Tom Boxburger,
Mess Management Specialist First (MS1) Joel Mateo,
Photographers Mate Third (PH3) Paul Dearing.

Below is some of the documentation Fritz dealt with in the post office...
cancel this

This was not the first parachute jump at Pole...earlier ones by VXE-6 happened on Christmas Eve 1973, and in 1966. The very first jump was by TSGT Richard J. Patton, USAF of the 1710th Aerial Port Squadron on November 26, 1956.

All these guys were serious professionals and knew what they were doing. Other NGA parachute jumpers at Pole more recently have not been in the same category. On December 7, 1997 (Pole time) six participants in a private expedition jumped out of a plane over the station. Two of these were Norwegians, and they did a "tandem jump" meaning they stayed together and used only one chute. The other four were an Austrian and three Americans. The Austrian and two Americans died from impact with the ice, one of them was former ASA carpenter Steve Mulholland who had worked at Pole. When the bodies were examined, two of the three jumpers were still in a state of free fall and had made no attempt to open their chutes. The reserve chute on the third jumper had just started to deploy; whether by his efforts or by ground impact, could not be determined.

The fourth jumper survived, but he didn't deploy his main chute either. He lived because was the only person carrying an AAD which automatically deployed his reserve chute when he got too low. He survived unharmed although he landed 1/2 mile from the target drop area; he then walked back to the drop zone where a group of Polies was still watching for the rest of the parachutes...so he could seek help, commiseration, and body bags, as the jump plane landed. More information, details, references, and photos of the participants at Pole, can be found here.