Skip to main content

Army Airborne School

The Army Airborne School trains warriors in the art and science of air assault, or “death from above.” Airborne school provides paratrooper training for the United States armed forces. Paratroopers are soldiers and marines that use parachutes in operations and campaigns as part of an airborne drop force.

The school itself is operated by the 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment based out of Fort Moore Georgia. The school, also called “Jump School” provides the armed services with a Basic Airborne Course.

Jumpmasters also provide training to other select groups within the Department of Defense as well as United States allies, though the latter is in rare circumstances and often involves training for jumping with cargo for aid related missions.

army airborne school
Death from above…

Jump School certifies its students in the use of parachutes for combat situations. It is reported to be one of the toughest specialized training schools used by the Army and has bred a culture of aggression in training. Due to the readiness of candidates who apply, the airborne school pass rate is exceptionally high for a demanding program as demanding as this.

The school is voluntary and most soldiers who attend have it added to their contract with the armed forces, though it typically adds one year to their deployment because of the specialized nature of the training. Students may quit at any time during the three-week course, whether they are still working on the ground or are in a plane about to make a jump.

How To Apply For Airborne School

Physical fitness, communication with superiors, and adherence to the established application procedures are key to successfully applying for and attending Airborne School. To apply, aspiring candidates should understand and follow the specific process outlined by their respective military branches. The application process for each involves several steps.

First, candidates must obtain an airborne packet by meeting physical qualifications for parachute duty and passing a physical examination indicating readiness for airborne training. Second, candidates take the airborne packet to their G1 to submit an A1 application thru ATRRS. Third, wait for the call.

The application process varies between military branches, so candidates should consult their unit’s guidelines for specific details. Once called, candidates should be prepared for the physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding nature of the training, which includes parachute jumps from military aircraft.

Airborne School Candidates And Instructors

Most students in the Airborne School at any given time will be from the Army. The Army operates four large airborne divisions and its special operations and Special Forces are also required to partake in parachute training.

airborne school

Marines also attend Jump School, as do Navy Special Forces. The Air Force sends some of its para-rescue trainees, weather technicians, and tactical air control members through the training. The Coast Guard does not send recruits to Jump School.

Regardless of their branch of service, all graduates receive the United States Army Parachutist Badge, which is often called the “Jump Wings.”

Army Airborne School instructors are known as “Black Hats” because of the black baseball caps that are part of their training uniforms. The caps are emblazoned with their rank and the parachutist bade.

Black Hats hold the rank of Sergeant and are referred to as “Sergeant Airborne.” However, if the instructor is from the Navy they are a Petty Officer in rank because the Navy uses a different officer classification system. Instructors can come from any of the four military branches that attend the school, but are typically from the Army.

Week 1: Ground Week

The first week of Jump School is all on the ground. Soldiers and marines learn how to safely land when they hit the ground by absorbing the impact with their entire body instead of landing solidly on the legs, which can break ankles and knees.

The proper landing technique for paratroopers is called the Parachute Landing Fall (PLF) and involves landing on the sides of the lower legs and knees while rotating to send energy through them as well as the upper body – always land with your knees together! The technique compensates for the rate of falling that the T-10D parachute creates, roughly equivalent to fall from a height of 1.5 stories.

Training involves running and performing maneuvers with the parachute and other equipment at first. Once soldiers are used to the feel of the gear, they begin jumping off of objects with it. Soldiers jump into pits of sand and other semi-hard cushions.

Black Hat instructors are on-hand to correct technique, especially a soldier’s posture, and show soldiers how to apply this falling to movement as they fall.

In order to pass Ground Week and move on to Tower Week, soldiers must pass all of the jumps as well as standard Army Physical Fitness Test requirements. If a soldier does not leave the program but does not pass, they may have an option of receiving a second round of training in order to attempt to pass the tests again. This often happens for soldiers who are injured during the training.

The Army keeps these greenhorns extra green by calling the practice recycling. If you pass, it’s on to jumping and falling from much greater heights.

Week 2: Tower Week

Tower Week involves jumping, falling and being pushed from various towers that range between 36 feet tall and 250 feet tall.Soldiers use the smaller towers to learn how to properly land and are required to maintain proper technique throughout the entire fall. For smaller towers, soldiers are attached to a zip line that includes a brief dead drop.

Soldiers jump from the tower with a slackened line that does not catch until after a free-fall of about 8 feet. The line will jerk and then the solider slides properly. Again, technique must be kept perfect through the process because this teaches soldiers how to handle the whiplash and catch associated with first opening a parachute.

You can’t close your eyes during these falls or you’ll have to do it again. This often means that soldiers who report enjoying the whole process only have to do these falls once or twice while those scared or uncomfortable with the process repeated it many times. Small and medium-sized towers are used to teach soldiers how to properly exit an aircraft, from jump positions and lines to techniques for avoiding aircraft parts and forces.

Tower Week culminates with the 250-foot tower. Soldiers are strapped into a harness and lifted into the air at the top of tower. Their parachutes are opened and they are left to drift down from the tower. Soldiers will perform these drops with the standard T-10D parachute and may also learn to use the T-10C, which allows for some steering. Soldiers are trained to aim for specific points of impact and the final tests involve hitting the center of a drop target.

Tower Week also teaches soldiers how to use different parachute equipment including emergency and reserve chutes. This includes required classroom lessons. Sleeping at any point during such a class calls for an immediate expulsion from the program. Soldiers that successfully hit jump targets and demonstrate the ability to operate emergency equipment under pressure are passed on to Jump Week.

Week 3: Jump Week

Soldiers get thrown out of a perfectly good airplane during Jump Week. Paratroopers are usually put in a C-130 or C-17 and flown from Lawson Army Airfield to Fryar Field where all of their training jumps are made. This has earned the area the nickname “Fryar Drop Zone.” Fryar is named for a World War II soldiers who was part of the parachute corps and won a Medal of Honor.

Drops are typically made from 1200 feet by a plane circling the drop zone. Soldiers are made to check their equipment, connect to a line inside the plane, and jump out of the airplane when told to by their Black Hat. The plane uses green lights to indicate that it is in the drop zone. If there are still soldiers onboard when the light turns red, the plane circles back around to the drop zone and then they jump.

Army Airborne School graduates need to have at least 5 successful jumps, including one night jump. Soldiers jump with a variety of different equipment levels, from virtually nothing to a full combat load. After a jump, soldiers collect their gear and return to Lawson to await their next jump.

Thursday is the final day for jumps during a typical Jump Week and the graduation ceremony is held on Friday morning. In the case of bad weather or large groups, however, the graduation ceremony can be held at the Fryar jump site immediately after the last jump is finished.

While family and guests are able to watch jumps and see their soldiers at Army Airborne School graduation day, interaction is limited. For most, Jump School is part of a continuous training program so there is no leave or celebration built in to the school.

Army Airborne School: A History

Airborne School was first instituted in 1940 when the War Department developed a paratrooper platoon. It was made up of Fort Benning’s 29th Infantry Regiment.

The first trainees went to New Jersey to use existing towers and gear left over from the New York World’s Fair. This allowed them to perform jumps in situations close to an airplane jump but with more safety options. The towers initially used served as models for the towers currently in use.

In 45 days after formation, students made their first jumps from a B-18. They landed in Lawson Field on August 16, 1940. This platoon holds the honor of being the first to have a mass jump in the United States. First Lieutenant William Ryder and Private William King became the first officer and enlisted man to officially jump as paratroopers in United States Army history.

Airborne School Guest Jumping Program

The Army Airborne School Guest Jumping Program is a unique initiative that allows selected individuals, often distinguished guests or public figures, to experience firsthand the training and skills of airborne soldiers. This program is typically hosted at military airborne schools, such as the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Moore, Georgia. Participants in the Guest Jumping Program undergo a condensed version of the rigorous training that regular airborne students go through. This may include instruction on parachute rigging, aircraft procedures, and jump techniques. The highlight of the program is the actual parachute jump, where guests have the opportunity to jump out of a military aircraft, usually a C-130 or C-17, and experience the adrenaline-pumping thrill of a parachute descent.

The Airborne school Guest Jumping Program not only serves as a unique and memorable experience for participants but also aims to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the skills and bravery of airborne soldiers. It provides civilians with a glimpse into the demanding training that these soldiers undergo and the precision required for successful airborne operations.


Airborne School is a specialized military training program designed to teach soldiers the techniques of parachute jumping. Established during World War II, its history is rooted in the need for rapid deployment of troops behind enemy lines. The school is renowned for its challenging nature. To pass, soldiers must complete a series of physically demanding tasks, including parachute landing falls and a series of jumps. The difficulty is intentional, ensuring that only those who meet stringent standards can earn the coveted airborne wings.

Today, soldiers from various military occupational specialties can apply and complete Airborne School. Applicants must meet specific health and fitness criteria, and participation often requires approval from commanding officers. Passing Airborne School is a significant achievement, symbolized by the awarding of the coveted airborne wings, signifying the soldier’s capability to conduct airborne operations and exemplifying courage, skill, and dedication.

Frequerntly Asked Questions

What is Airborne School, and why is it important in the military?

Airborne School is a military training program focused on parachute jumping skills. It is crucial for rapid troop deployment behind enemy lines. Established during World War II, it remains vital for enhancing the agility and versatility of military forces

How difficult is it to pass Airborne School?

Airborne School is known for its challenging nature. Participants undergo physically demanding tasks, and the difficulty is intentional to ensure that only those meeting stringent standards can earn their airborne wings.

What are the different levels of training in Airborne School?

Airborne School comprises three levels: Basic Airborne Course (BAC), Jumpmaster Course, and Pathfinder Course. Each level builds on the skills acquired in the previous one, providing a comprehensive understanding of airborne operations.

Who is eligible to attend Airborne School, and how can one apply?

Eligibility extends to military personnel from various occupational specialties. Applicants must meet health and fitness criteria, and the application process involves approvals from commanding officers.

What types of aircraft are used for parachute jumps in Airborne School?

Military aircraft such as C-130 or C-17 are typically used for parachute descents during Airborne School training jumps. Participants experience the thrill of jumping from these specialized platforms.

Can civilians attend Airborne School, or is it exclusive to military personnel?

While certain civilians are eligible for the Guest Jump program, Airborne School is primarily designed for military personnel, and participation requires a military affiliation.

What does it mean to earn airborne wings, and why is it considered a significant achievement

Earning airborne wings signifies successful completion of Airborne School and demonstrates a soldier’s capability to conduct airborne operations. It symbolizes courage, skill, and dedication, making it a prestigious and significant achievement in military circles.

Comments (23)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *