Fairchild’s Parachute shop; last to let you down

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. JT May III
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Imagine running through your mental checklist while jumping out of an aircraft at 10,000 feet. You check your speed, free fall, steering and direction before preparing to hit the drop zone. One could see the endless possibilities of things that could go wrong, now couple that with the fear of wondering if the person packed your parachute correctly.
     The 336th Training Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment shop alleviates this fear by having a "zero mistake" standard.
     "Our Quality Assurance program has to be 100 percent all the time," said Staff Sgt. Michael Brown, 336th TSS, Aircrew Flight Equipment shop NCO in charge. "A bad day or not paying attention to detail could result in someone's death."
     The shop is composed of fourteen members responsible for packing around 3,600 parachutes a year. On any given day, they have the expertise to pack various chutes to include Modified Improvised Reserve Parachute Systems, Butler HX-500 Reserve Parachute, MC-4 Freefall and C-9 Static systems. They are the only shop in the Department of Defense that does static line configuration of the C-9 system. The versatility of the shop is evident in the numbers, in the last two years the number of jumpers has increased from 42 to 120.
     Most members of the shop wear a parachute rigger badge. The badge denotes graduation from an Army Rigger Course.
     They are not only responsible for parachutes, but all equipment that is issued out such as flotation gear; aircraft escape slides and restraint systems. They maintain gear for both Water and Combat Survival School students. In return, this offers a close association with the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape community who regard them as family bridging the gap between operations and support.
     The aircrew flight equipment specialists have to be jack of all trades to ensure the success of the SERE mission.
     Whether the gear goes to the desert or the ocean, equipment is taken to every environment imaginable. This offers unique training opportunities for shop members who are required to repair anything in order to facilitate the training of future pilots, navigators, aircrew members or SERE instructors.
     The members of the shops are silent heroes who know that they can never afford to make a mistake.
     "Every time I pack a chute or repair a flotation device, I imagine myself using the gear," said Airman 1st Class Shane Bedard, 336th Training Support Squadron, aircrew flight equipment specialist." I know it may be the last chance for life."