Fort Bragg parachute riggers perform successful dual-row airdrop
August 20, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - For the parachute riggers of the 11th Quartermaster Company, the task was simple - make it work.
On Friday, that's exactly what they did as Soldiers gathered at Sicily drop to watch eight vehicles get dropped from a Pope Air Force Base C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, marking the unit's first successful dual-row airdrop system deployment in almost two years.
The dual-row Airdrop System is a load platform in which two pieces of equipment are loaded side-by-side on the aircraft, as opposed to the standard single vehicle, front-to-back method.
"We had eight of them in the C-17 and all eight of them successfully deployed," explained Warrant Officer 1 Amanda Weidler, the unit's airdrop systems technician, following the heavy airdrop. "This is the first drop that we've done in over 22 months, because we've had a hold on the DRAS system because of a problem with the locking system in the aircraft."
She explained the significance of the DRAS system when compared to a standard heavy airdrop load platform.
"On a standard load plan, you're only able to fit two, 32-foot platforms into a C-17," said Weidler, who is a native of Pierce, Neb. "Potentially, now you can fit more cargo into the back of the aircraft using the DRAS platform."
According to Pedro Hernandez, the operation at Sicily drop zone was a success for the unit.
"Overall it was a success," Hernandez said, "considering there was no malfunctions. That was our main priority out here, to ensure that there were no malfunctions. The mission went well."
Hernandez, a Houston native, who serves as section sergeant for the aerial delivery section, is a former combat engineer. His engineer background is helpful now because he is very familiar with most of the equipment that the unit often rigs for heavy airdrop delivery.
He explained that the DRAS system of delivery is beneficial to Soldiers on the ground and the Airmen who deliver the equipment to them.
"It's very important to the unit to whom the equipment belongs," Hernandez explained. "This system allows us to get the equipment out to them faster. It's also an added benefit to the Air Force because if one aircraft goes down, there's another aircraft to pick up the slack for that airplane as well."
Spc. Carlos Martinez, a rigger from Madera, Calif., said he was also pleased with the way the exercise went.
"I think it was a success," he said. "The chutes opened up beautifully and on-time and it came out good. (The capability to perform) DRAS has just come back and with the new guys that just came into the unit, they performed exactly the way they were supposed to. Overall, it was good for the unit."
Hernandez pointed out that although the riggers configure the parachutes to deliver the equipment, in all airdrop operations, they receive additional support from the unit to whom they deliver. In this case it was the 2nd Bn., 325th Abn. Inf. Regt., 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division. The unit provided a recovery team to retrieve the vehicles, following the drop. Hernandez pointed out that these Soldiers were instrumental in making the operation a success.
"Part of the success was because of all the rigger assets," he said. "But it was also because of the supporting assets, as well. They're doing a great job and they always do a great job in making sure the equipment comes back to us serviceable so that we can re-use it. That makes the entire operation faster and more efficient."