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Insider's Look at Smokejumping

Insider's Look at Smokejumping

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Bruce L. Nelson w/introduction by

Smokejumpers are highly trained wildfire firefighters deployed to remote locations. They are parachuted in to to secure fires otherwise unreachable by local forces. By making use of high-altitude aircraft, smokejumpers are able to reach fires faster, cheaper, and better equipped than any road-bound vehicle.

Because smokejumping forces are limited to small teams, most of us don’t get a chance to see what these special forces battle. “Buck” Nelson, a 20-year smokejumping veteran, gives us an insider look into the smokejumping world…

The Jump…

This was taken in a DC-3 over a fire in the rugged Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon. The jumper in the door is about ready to follow his jump partner who has just exited.

The “spotter,” on the left, is making sure the jumper’s static line stays clear.

The static line automatically deploys the main parachute of the Forest Service system. The yellow static line of the first jumper can be seen in the upper, left-hand corner of the door.

On this fire both Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management firefighters safely jumped out of the same aircraft, business as usual nowadays.

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