An emergency parachute jettison
device was used for the first time during a Joint Forcible Entry
Exercise at Pope AFB, April 25.
Loadmasters from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and Dyess
AFB, Texas, participated in the exercise. Chief Master Sgt. Steven
Pyszka and Master Sgt. Lee McDaniel, loadmaster training
instructors from Air Mobility Command, came to ensure the device
was properly set up and operated.
The new jettison device has been in development since 1997. It
was created to quickly and safely jettison malfunctioning
parachutes during an airdrop delivery of heavy equipment.
“The capability of jettisoning extraction parachutes when
they are outside the aircraft before the load has been extracted is
important,” Sergeant McDaniel said. “A parachute
malfunction risks the safety of the crew and the
Sergeant McDaniel referenced a crash that occurred almost 19
years ago. A C-130 Hercules aircrew crashed at Fort Bragg, N.C., in
July 1987 as a result of a parachute malfunction. The crewmen were
doing a low-altitude parachute extraction system demonstration in
front of more than 4,000 spectators.
During this demonstration, the aircrew was attempting to drop a
load about five feet above the ground. The load was supposed to be
dragged out of the aircraft's rear door by a parachute and then the
plane was supposed to ascend. Because of a parachute malfunction,
that was not the case.
Four Airmen and one Soldier died. Two Airmen were injured. The
sergeant said if the crew had the jettison device, they might not
According to Chief Pyszka, when a heavy equipment load is set to
drop and that fails, the current protocol is for the loadmaster to
take a knife to it and try to cut the lines by hand to release the
load out of the aircraft.
“This is more dangerous because the load could break away
while the loadmaster is cutting the lines,” said Chief
Pyszka. That kind of emergency response has been done a number of
times during heavy-equipment airdrop missions. The jettison device
is designed to initiate a quick release of the load, in the event
of a malfunction, at the flip of a switch."
Chief Pyszka said the new jettison device should be operational
next year. [ANN Salutes Senior Airman Cassandra Locke, 43rd Airlift
Wing Public Affairs]