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Some people jump from an airplane to cross an item off their “bucket list.”
Sam Parsons of Stephenville took the plunge last week, at just 17.
He took his first parachute jump the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 13, as one of 49 cadets from across the country. They were enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces Basic Parachutist Course with the Canadian Forces Advanced Land Warfare Centre in Trenton, Ont.
The son of Ken and Amanda Parsons, Parsons is a member of the 2904 Cambrai Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps and the only Newfoundlander in the four-week course this year.
After three weeks preparation and actually completing their jumps last week, Parsons admitted it was a challenging course. Instructors were tough but Parsons recognized they had to be strict on him and his peers.
He said safety comes first and while the cadets all had to check their own equipment, the more qualified people double- and even triple-checked them.
Taking that first jump is hard to describe, according to Parsons. Inside the plane there's fear but when you step out fear is gone and training kicks in.
“You almost feel like you're cushioned by the air to your back and moments later you’re under the canopy and it’s the most peaceful thing in the world,” he said.
Parsons was surprised by how well his landing went after getting this ground rush as he neared the earth.
“Before you know it, you’re on the ground,” he said.
A cadet for about three years, Parsons was originally involved in biathlon. When he found out about the parachutist course and his fitness levels would meet the standards, he decided to give it a go.
The first week was all physical based, involving building strength and mental focus; the second and third week went into flight school and what was involved with descending and landing.
The fourth week was all jumps with him having to do five in total, including one that had to be done at night, which he was looking forward to.
“It’s been stressful as there is a lot of information to take in during a very short time,” Parsons said.
He would recommend it to other cadets, but noted a requirement is to be in good physical and mental shape. There is constant stress during the program.
Parsons has one year left of secondary school but still hasn’t made any decision on his future career.
The parachutist course is a one-time thing for him but Parsons said it was exciting and well worth it.
“It’s something I’ll think about my entire life. I’ll never forget the moment I left that plane,” Parsons said.
Tick one box off the bucket list of Sam Parsons.
About the parachutist program:
• Basic Parachutist course is highly competitive as there are only 49 Army cadets selected nationally.
• Long days, physical work and mental focus is required throughout the course.
• One of the most challenging courses an Army cadet can take part in.
• Upon successful completion of the course, a cadet is presented with his/her well-earned coveted jump wings.
• Trenton Cadet Training Centre strives to offer challenging programs to youth aged 12 to 18 to help them acquire new experiences.
• Trenton strives to foster and encourage team spirit, mutual assistance, comradeship and physical fitness in a safe and fulfilling climate.
• The cadet program, open to all youth aged 12-18, has a focus on leadership, citizenship and healthy living.
• If you are ready for the challenge, visit www.cadets.ca and click on “Find Us” and visit the centre’s Facebook page to see their adventures! www.facebook.com/centralregioncadets
Source: Trenton Cadet Training Centre