Saturday, 5 June 2010

First out of the plane!

This past week has definitely been my most favourite week in the army so far, having jumped out of an aeroplane four times! It is all a bit surreal and I still have one more jump to do tomorrow, in order to get my wings.

Walking into the plane.

Jumping out of an aeroplane with a parachute is an amazing experience and to do it within the spectrum of the army made it even more exciting. After writing about the 'tsnichot' (paratrooping jumps) in the last blog, I think some people failed to realise that when I jumped this week, it wasn't with someone on my back, instead, as they say in jump school, it was "just me and the parachute". My first jump was on Tuesday and, in all honesty, I loved every minute of it. The whole process takes a really long time, despite being in the air for a little under a minute, the exercise can take up to around five hours; from travelling to the air force base and a hundred million safety checks, to waiting for the aeroplane to arrive and reaching the meeting point once you've landed on the ground. My first jump, like all my jumps this week, went smoothly and is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Unbelievably, I happened to be the first one to jump out of the plane for the first jump(!). Being first to leave the plane is the most scary and also the most exciting because you wait by the open door of the plane for a full minute before the light goes green and you get the command to "kfots" (jump)...

Jumping out the plane!

That's the last thing you hear before everything goes crazy. I jumped, without hesitation, and then fell for 60m, about three seconds, which is the time it takes for the parachute to open. Those four seconds are quite undescribable; the best way to explain it is that it's like a rope is being tied round your feet and you're pulled through the air horizontally! It's a crazy period of time and it's impossible to think, I was just in shock (especially if you can consider that for those four seconds I was falling through the air without a parachute). Then, the parachute opens and everything became calm and quiet and I started to enjoy the fantastic view. As I neared the ground I got into the landing position and landed safely with my feet firmly together. After landing you have to pack up the parachute and arrive at the meeting point. Although I have summed it up in a very simple way, it was easily the most exhilirating experience I have ever done and, surprisingly, I wasn't scared at all. Unlike some of my friends, who took the 'tsnichot' as physical punishment (since we had to carry a heavy weight; parachute and chest bag - containing gun and vest - for a really long distance after the all the jumps), I think it was definitely worth it and loved every moment of last week.

I did four jumps this week:
1) In the day, without any equipment
2) In the day, with the chest bag
3) In the night, with the chest bag
4) In the night, under the conditions of a real mission.

All in all, as I keep mentioning, it was a great week and I consistently followed the jump instructors' advice of "Keep your legs together and smile". However, some people did not follow this advice and this explains the bad aspect of last week. Closing your legs when you land is the most important thing you can do because if you land on one leg before the other, then all the weight goes on that leg and it can easily break. That is what happened to too many people this week, about ten people broke their legs from all battalions of tzanchanim, including a friend of mine from 101. I understand now why the discipline of jump school is so strong because paratrooping is a dangerous exercise and the reason the instructors drilled into us the correct positions of landing is because if you don't do it right then you can break your leg. Thankfully for me, I was very disciplined in all my jumps, but seeing the people being treated with morphine and having splints in their legs was harrowing and nearly runied the whole experience. I don't want to end on a bad note; I absolutely loved the jumping and am so excited to do my fifth and final one tomorrow, which will be followed by the wings ceremony!

On our way to the ground, notice the chest bags dangling below us.

I don't want my blog to be a political forum or a stage for the Middle Eastern debate, but I feel like I have to talk about what happened this week in Israel. Now I'm not a right wing extremist, I'm quite moderate in fact, but it angers me to hear that the rest of the world, as per usual, views Israel as the bad party on what happened with the Flotilla issue. For me it is quite simple, due to the nature of Hamas' terrorist regime and its control of Gaza, we have no choice but to intercept any ship going to Gaza. The army does this because supplies, like cement, are taken by Hamas to be used to attack Israel, for example, by building tunnels, which is how Gilad Shalit was captured. That's one issue settled, as for victims of the boat, from the videos it is clear to see that those people were intent on harming our young soldiers and, consequently, initiated the violence. Of course, the anti-semitic world only shows one bias side of the story in the media and now the whole world, once again, hates Israel. If people could just see the truth.

The long walk back, carrying both 20kg parachute and 15kg chest bag.

I have a very intense period coming up in the army, including my last two masaot and 'shavua milhama' (war week), which is the summarising week of my whole training. I may be closing now for three weeks in the media, so by the next blog I may only have one more week left of training. I want to finish by saying thank you for all the comments I receive on this blog (from people all over the world). Thank you for reading and please continue to read and leave comments because it motivates me to carry on and try and make this blog as inspiring and interesting as it can be. I have a cool week coming up with one more jump, the wings ceremony and a 50km masa!!!


  1. Dearest Sam,

    I know you don't me and I don't know you, but I feel we have a close connection, as we both have very similar aims in the short-medium term future. I just want to say how proud of you I am of everything you have achieved thus far, especially your jumps and of going first, it can't be easy. Keep well my brother, tishmor al atsmecha and most of all, have some fun, especially during this last jump of yours and the ceremony afterwards, mikol halev, od oleh chadash, Rafi

  2. Sam - Kol Hakavod. Best of luck to you, Ron.