Before they graduate, soldiers jump out of a plane with a parachute they pack themselves

Soldiers jumping out of a plane

Before graduating, about 15,000 students perform five jumps from a live aircraft at the United States Army’s Airborne School. Each depends on the chute to land safely on the ground.

A team known as riggers is behind every allocated chute. They work in the Parachute Infantry Regiment in Fort Benning. Packing about 15 parachutes each day, riggers have to ensure the chutes are in order.

It would seem, therefore, that the safety of the airborne students depends on the riggers. If a rigger fails to check a chute, no amount of training can stave off the potential hazard.

Soldiers packing parachute

So to the riggers, every chute matters. It’s due to this reason they undergo 13 weeks of specialized training. This training includes test-running a chute they had packed themselves by jumping out of it.

At the end of the year, an average rigger gets $22000. But this annual payment increases with experience and ascension in the ranks. As they inspect the chutes, the riggers are likewise inspected.

The entire packing and unpacking process takes a dozen steps with about 30 minutes to reach a logical packing end. Each day, a rigger can only pack 15 parachutes. Nothing more than 15 chutes is allowed.

The average working year of a chute is 12 and a half, after which new chutes replace the old ones. Deficient chutes can be identified and taken out. Successful ones make it to the hangar, where students pick them up for use.

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