RAF Parachute Jumping Instructors celebrate 70 years

70 years of Para­chute Jump­ing Instruc­tors with­in the Roy­al Air Force has been marked with a cel­e­bra­tion day at RAF West­on-on-the-Green and RAF Brize Nor­ton Offi­cers’ Mess.

The RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team perform an 11-man jump to mark the 70th anniversary of Parachute Jumping Instructor
The RAF Fal­cons Para­chute Dis­play Team per­form an 11-man jump to mark the 70th anniver­sary of Para­chute Jump­ing Instruc­tor
Source: SAC Sarah Gibbs, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The tra­di­tion began when a para­chute train­ing school was formed at RAF Ring­way on 21 June 1940 as the Cen­tral Land­ing School which from 1 Octo­ber 1940 was des­ig­nat­ed as the Para­chute Train­ing Squadron of the Cen­tral Land­ing Establishment. 

It became an inde­pen­dent unit as the Para­chute Train­ing School on 15 Feb­ru­ary 1942. Fol­low­ing the for­ma­tion of a sec­ond school in India, the cur­rent name of No 1 Para­chute Train­ing School was adopt­ed on 27 July 1944. 

No 1 Para­chute Train­ing School (PTS) was formed at a crit­i­cal time in the nation’s his­to­ry and over the years No 1 PTS has been direct­ly involved in the air­borne assaults in Sici­ly, Nor­mandy, Arn­hem and Suez. 

Offi­cer Com­mand­ing Air­borne Deliv­ery Wing (ADW), Wing Com­man­der Glynn All­cock, said: 

“We were born 70 years ago for a par­tic­u­lar pur­pose; to rapid­ly insert troops into areas where they could­n’t get by any oth­er means of transport. 

“It’s apt that 70 years lat­er, here we are today doing exact­ly the same thing in Afghanistan, so we are as rel­e­vant now as when we were first formed and we’re still doing exact­ly the same job.” 

ADW per­son­nel, who are based at RAF Brize Nor­ton, com­prise Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion Offi­cers and Phys­i­cal Train­ing Instruc­tors — all of whom are qual­i­fied Para­chute Jump­ing Instruc­tors (PJIs).

The Wing con­sists of No 1 Para­chute Train­ing School and a Head­quar­ters Squadron which co-ordi­nates activ­i­ties. The Para­chute Train­ing School is respon­si­ble for deliv­er­ing all ini­tial train­ing to air­borne troops across all the Services. 

Wg Cdr All­cock continued: 

“For 70 years we have been the sole train­ers across all the Ser­vices, train­ing the Roy­al Marines, niche per­son­nel like the Sub­ma­rine Para­chute Assis­tance Group, and most recent­ly we have been work­ing hard to qual­i­fy the para­chutists from 16 Air Assault Brigade who are just about to go to Afghanistan. 

“It takes a par­tic­u­lar type of men­tal­i­ty to be a PJI; we are a small elite team and after that first jump it’s in your blood.” 

Serv­ing and retired PJIs gath­ered at RAF West­on-on-the-Green to see equip­ment being show­cased by the Para­chute Train­ing School, the Joint Air Deliv­ery Test and Eval­u­a­tion Unit (JADTEU), and the Para­chute and Arma­ment Engi­neer­ing Flight (PAEF). The JADTEU and the PAEF pro­vide vital sup­port to the school by eval­u­at­ing new equip­ment and by main­tain­ing in-Ser­vice equip­ment to the high­est standards. 

There were a num­ber of para­chute drops, includ­ing low-lev­el, freefall and tan­dem jumps, dur­ing the day. 

PJI Sergeant Gra­ham ‘Rosie’ Rose said: 

“PJIs have a phys­i­cal train­ing instruc­tor back­ground because of the need to be very fit. The para­chute weighs about 60lbs [27kg] and then extra equip­ment can weigh up to 120lbs [54kg], so you’ve got to be phys­i­cal­ly strong to keep doing the descents.” 

The RAF Fal­cons Para­chute Dis­play Team per­formed an 11-man para­chute jump and team mem­ber Cor­po­ral Bri­an Wright said: 

“It’s very poignant to mark the PJI 70th anniver­sary and to have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to chat to the ex-PJIs and to get an idea of their expe­ri­ences. We can also pass on to them what we do at the moment.” 

As part of the 70th anniver­sary cel­e­bra­tions a for­mal din­ner for 190 serv­ing and retired PJIs was held in the Offi­cers’ Mess at RAF Brize Norton. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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