These 10 photos and GIFs show how paratroopers are made

U.S. Army paratroopers are soldiers dropped behind enemy lines to capture airfields, destroy defenses, and kill hostile forces quickly. All Airborne soldiers go through school at Fort Benning, Georgia where training cadre with the 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, teach them how to jump.

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Photo: US Army Spc. Michael J. MacLeod

1. Learning to fall to the ground without breaking bones is a crucial airborne skill.

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Paratroopers are trained to fall through the “five points of contact.” GIF: YouTube/savingpvtbryan

 

2. Soldiers practice how to properly jump from a plane in “mock doors” that simulate aircraft. Failing to get a strong exit on a real jump can result in the paratrooper getting slammed against the side of the aircraft.

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GIF: YouTube/savingpvtbryan

3. Fall training progresses through different levels as troops learn how to hit the ground regardless of the wind direction.

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GIF: YouTube/seguind948

4. Aspiring paratroopers are sent to a 34-foot tall tower to practice their exits (and to get over any fear of falling they might have).

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Photo: US Army Cheryl Rodewig

5. At first, the soldiers jump one at a time, but they progress to jumping in groups of four.

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Photo: US Army Kristin Molinaro

6. Around this same time, students meet the Swing Landing Trainer where they practice landing hard on the gravel pits.

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GIF: YouTube/seguind948

7. This prepares them for the 250-foot towers where they get their first chance to fall hundreds of feet under an actual parachute.

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Photo: US Army Photo by Ashley Cross

8. Then, it’s on to Jump Week when they finally board an aircraft and get into the sky.

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GIF: YouTube/savingpvtbryan

9. The students have to do five jumps from a plane at approximately 1,250 feet to graduate the course.

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GIF: YouTube/savingpvtbryan

10. Once they do, they’ll be awarded their Silver Wings and be able to call themselves paratroopers.

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GIF: YouTube/seguind948