Parachute Course-Balloon

#1
It was my fate to do 2 balloon jumps at Weston.I was very young,and the number 1(an officer!) refused,so down we went.I was next,and on the return up,I was-frankly-scared.Has anyone got any pics from the cage?

Also I understand that the balloon was replaced by a small aircraft,in later years.When was this,?

My last balloon jump was some years later at Hankley.On that serial there was one refusal,from a guy,already qualified for 2 years,so the device must have remained scary,at least in his mind.
 
#2
Did 5 balloons jumps in day. I suppose if you left it a while before your next decent it may get to you.
Once qualified it was a court martial offence not to. I could not face the lads if I refused "AIRBORNE"
 
#5
I've still got my Jump Balloon t shirt! Got quite a few pics of the balloon on my laptop at home, will post a few up when I'm back there.
 
#6
As a Cpl in Depot Para in the late 80's we used to go down for the first cage of the day (and a few more usually). The Joes got a real beasting that day, 'Cpl full of sky'! Happy days.
 
#7
I remember being on leave 94 when the ballon was up on Queens Avenue. just been out shopping with the mrs at Asdas, raced home and got inot green kit to do three jumps. no other reason than it was alovely summers day and civvies pay good money for it!!! We'd been drinking as well which probably added to my bravado that day and explained why on the first one did a proper aircraft exit that had the cage swinging like a good un. Nowadays I get dizzy looking up at scaffolding!!
 
#8
I used to love that...being sat in the Naafi and seeing the balloon go up...leg it down the Ave and try and blag a jump. Happy days indeed!
 
#9
Very cold-blooded, jumping from the balloon. As the orficer, I was first out of the first balloon of the course. Bravado led me to try to say something bold, but my voice wasn't really there. When I stood in the door, I managed to get my right arm across the reserve, but the left one wouldn't come. Fortunately, the wise old Flight Sergeant PJI ws following through on the controls and more or less put it in place for me.

The thing that amused me was the little hinged rod thing they fastened across the door while you went up - were they afraid you might fall out?

I have to say, I never looked forward to parachuting - though it was fine once into the aircraft, because there was plenty going on to occupy one's mind.

The nicest way to parachute was from the Wessex because the minimal headroom meant you did it sitting down, shuffling into the door on your bum. I did four of those one warm day at Barry Buddon and was amazed at just how tiring it was.
 
#11
I used to love that...being sat in the Naafi and seeing the balloon go up...leg it down the Ave and try and blag a jump. Happy days indeed!

It was so lax wasnt it - no proof required , just turn up with a scrimmed up helmet and a set of wings. I was so so so close to getting my brother up with me as he was desperate to do one but I bottled it. He's a scaffolder but looking back now, no one would have ever known.
 
#13
Back in 89, 9 Sqn had an open day at Minley. Star attraction was the the balloon. We were there with the recruiting tower. One of our blokes was a commando with no parachuting experience. A 10 minute ground training session, a borrwed smock and helmet and off he went. No probs and he won a tenner bet off all of us.
 
#14
The thing is, Military Parachuting affects people in different ways.

A lot of them hated the Balloon, because of the silence.

No engine noise. No slip stream. Just the wind whistling all around.

The jolt of the cabin, when the cable got to it's designated length.

Number One, Stand in the door! By this stage, most people were crapping their Keks!!!

Ballooning.....The easiest jumps I ever did. Piece o piss!!!
 
#15
Very cold-blooded, jumping from the balloon. As the orficer, I was first out of the first balloon of the course. Bravado led me to try to say something bold, but my voice wasn't really there. When I stood in the door, I managed to get my right arm across the reserve, but the left one wouldn't come. Fortunately, the wise old Flight Sergeant PJI ws following through on the controls and more or less put it in place for me.

The thing that amused me was the little hinged rod thing they fastened across the door while you went up - were they afraid you might fall out?

I have to say, I never looked forward to parachuting - though it was fine once into the aircraft, because there was plenty going on to occupy one's mind.

The nicest way to parachute was from the Wessex because the minimal headroom meant you did it sitting down, shuffling into the door on your bum. I did four of those one warm day at Barry Buddon and was amazed at just how tiring it was.
Same here,I attempted to appear cool,leaning on the lip of the basket.First out was an Arab major,as he spoke english and would talk down his bretheren on the next "stick".
It was then my turn,--on the word "GO",I went,and at the same time I attempted to say "Bye"--it came out as "BYeeeeeeeeeee!"
Still enjoyed it,did as told by oppo and looked up and watched 'chute deploy,thus missing(the scary bit) terra firma rushing up to meet me.
PJI standard was "GO!--Come back!"
Would do it again in a minute,but don't know if joints/body would hack it.
 
#16
I did my BPC when one of the two balloon jumps was through the aperture. On TA training w/ends the aperture descent would be 'done' with equipment. No mean feat. Looking down from the aperture (through the floor) gave you the firm impression that you'd get wrapped up in the cable tow.

From the PJI / APJI's perspective, balloon programmes had their idiosyncracies. The command - "Up 800'..... 4 / 5 men jumping" indicated that the cable operator wound out 800 feet of cable and slowed the motor to a stop. This didn't automatically mean that the cage was at 800' AGL. DZ's such as Hankley had it's interesting moments as it lay in a bowl and the upper wind strength mean some questionably short times under a canopy before landing.

Night descents from the balloon were an acquired taste and there weren't too many folks running out of NAAFI's to get on those programmes, particularly if the 'qualifying' descents involved equipment.

PJI's / APJI's had on ocassions to simulate 'run-away balloon' procedures. This involved safely despatching all of the troops, unhooking the static lines taking care not to unhook your own which was in another part of the sliding bolt fixed point. Stowing the bags to the rear of the cage, donning your helmet and unhitching the reserve parachute from it's stowage point.

This is the point where things could go off script. There was a red length of rope which was required to be tugged at least 3 healthy pulls, ripping the deflation panel from it's point thus ensuring the balloon didn't float off to America. The 'tugs' were simulated, the despatcher moved to the 'door' clearing the static line behind and not caught around the base of the pack, then jumped.

I made more than a few descents in my younger days either without a reserve or not wearing a helmet, perceived capital offences to older instructors.

Remember those expressions in the cage ? - " There's a blue flag flying (door bar is dropped)......... take up the slack in your static lines........ ok No1, stand in the door.................. left hand across your reserve................ static line clear.......... in your own time.............
 
#17
I loved the balloon: relatively spacious, no chain vomiting during low level, quick and hassle-free.


Also I understand that the balloon was replaced by a small aircraft,in later years.When was this,?
Sky van. At a guess I'd have said 1996 or 1997.
 
#18
I


Remember those expressions in the cage ? - " There's a blue flag flying (door bar is dropped)......... take up the slack in your static lines........ ok No1, stand in the door.................. left hand across your reserve................ static line clear.......... in your own time.............

Oh yes!

The bit that made me chuckle for some perverse reason was being number 1 and up at 800 feet and the balloon would rock I would hold on for grim death in case I fell out!
 
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