The Army’s Airborne School is also commonly referred to as Jump School or Paratrooper School. This three-week course takes place at Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA after your soldier has finished BCT and AIT. If he is scheduled to go to Airborne, he will be picked up after graduation from AIT and taken to the Airborne barracks (on the main post) for in-processing. This process takes the better part of the day. Do not wait around for your soldier. Make sure he has a way to contact you to let you know when he has been released.
To successfully qualify for Airborne school, he must pass a physical fitness test of push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run. He must earn a minimum of 60 points per event based on the 17-21 year old APFT standards (regardless of age) and he must also be no older than 36.
Army Airborne school is broken down to three phases with each phase lasting one week: Ground, Tower and Jump.
Much of the time during this week is spent learning how to land. He will practice the PLF (parachute landing fall) and learn that it is important to land with your feet and knees together. He will also be jumping repeatedly into a sand pit or a pebble pit. He can be quite sore at the end of this week from the constant landings in the pit and his uniform will take quite a beating as well. During ground week, he will be jumping from a 34-foot tower to practice landings.
During this week, he will use the 34-foot tower, the swing-landing trainer, the mock door for mass exit training, the suspended harness and the 250-foot tower. He is also taught how to handle parachute malfunctions. He will learn how to control his parachute as well as how to use the risers to guide his descent.
He must complete five jumps, including one night jump, in order to graduate from Airborne school. For many, this is the best part of Airborne school as they are actually jumping. Many are kidded that all of their jumps are “night jumps” meaning that they had their eyes closed each time they jumped. During the week, he will have day and night jumps and jumps with equipment and without.
For some, their last jump is on to the field for graduation. In this case, any family present for graduation would be able to see the jump. He must have passed all PT requirements as well as completed all five jumps to graduate from Airborne. Graduation is usually held on the Friday of Jump Week in the morning. Any family member that is present can pin the jump wings on their soldier. While technically “blood wings” (where the skin is pierced) are not allowed, I guarantee many soldiers still receive them. If a family member is not present, one of the instructors will pin the soldier.
Communication During Airborne
If Airborne school is the same as when my husband went through it, he will have nights and weekends off. He is also allowed to have a cell phone with him and when he is off, he can call. If you are close enough, you can even visit him on the weekends. But also be forewarned that the same Army rule always applies – if one gets in trouble, they all get in trouble so these privileges can be taken away without notice.