By Staff Sgt. JaJuan S. Broadnax, USASOAC Public AffairsApril 16, 2015
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, April 16, 2015) -- On March 2, 2015, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Douglas Englen, command chief warrant officer of the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command, began a new chapter in his career as he started the U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Ga.
During Ground Week, the first week of the course, trainees were required to pass the Army physical fitness test using the 17 to 21 age group standards. They were also taught how to jump and land safely while training on a 34-foot tower and lateral drift apparatus.
"The most challenging part of the course was the APFT," he said. "It makes you realize how important it is to maintain physical fitness."
Building on skills learned during Ground Week, trainees moved on to the second week known as Airborne Tower Week. During this week, they were taught the mass exit technique through the use of the 34-foot tower, the swing landing trainer, the suspended harness, and the mock door. Some trainees were also selected to get dropped from the 250-foot free tower.
"When I had a chance to drop from the 250 foot tower, that's when all of the training came together," said Englen.
After making it through the first two weeks, trainees entered the third and final week of training known as Airborne Jump Week. All skills learned during the previous weeks were put to the test as they completed five parachute jumps at 1,250 feet from a C-130 or C-17 aircraft. Two of the jumps were with combat equipment; three were with only the parachute and reserve.
"I know what 1,250 feet feels like, so I was in my comfort zone at that altitude, but I have never had to jump from a perfectly good aircraft," he continued.
Englen has worked with aviation for his entire 28-year career, first on the maintenance level then later as a pilot.
"My experience as an aviator definitely helped me through the course," he said. "I am used to the movement of the aircraft while in the air [and] I understand how warm air pockets affect movement."
"After I completed my first jump, I realized that I'd made it through the course," he continued.
While training with Soldiers the same age as his children, Englen used the opportunity to instill some wisdom.
"I enjoyed taking the chance to give them guidance and advice," he said. "I also had a chance to talk to some of the young officers going through the course. I gave them pointers on how to be in charge and take the lead in different situations."
On March 20, Brig. Gen. James Rainey, the Maneuver Center of Excellence deputy commanding general, and Englen's Family made his accomplishment official as they pinned a Parachutist Badge onto his chest during the graduation ceremony.
"I've gained a deeper respect for people who jump out of aircrafts now that I have gone through the course," said Englen.
Englen said that he looks forward to jumping with members of his unit after he takes a few weeks to spend time with his family.