We are excited to let you know that the book “CALLING FROM THE SKY” will be available in October 2019.
Today we are sharing an excerpt from page 88 and 89, Chapter 9 titled SABOTAGE
The previous day, Friday, during lunch hour, Luke had packed his modified 7TU parachute in the parachute loft on Shaw Air Force Base. He’d bought it only two weeks before and was as proud of it as the big guys were of their competition Paracommander and Papillion canopies. Luke’s canopy was an outdated military pilot’s emergency chute, a twenty-eight-foot round circular, with four colors: orange, white, brown, and olive drab. The club and its members purchased these canopies from the US Air Force before the materials were sent off to the salvage yard for shredding.
Since most of the rigs were identical, Luke had his name tape sewn onto the container.
Halfway through his packing, Brian said to him, “Hey, Corbett, you ready to break for some chow? That new parachute of yours will still be there when we get back. Finish it after lunch.”
“Sounds good to me. I’m hungry.”
“I’m going out too, but I need to run some errands. See you after lunch.”
The Air Force collaborator Green, Howie Carlson, and their parachuting counterpart had coordinated a visit to Shaw AFB, South Carolina. Green smuggled his comrades onto the base in the trunk of his car. Once they were on the air base, they found that the parachute loft door lock was simple enough to open. It was a four-position-dial combination lock that needed the numbers set to center to open it. It’d be easy enough for anyone to learn these lock combinations because normally, the person who opened the lock would simply leave the numbers exposed and not roll them off until time to relock it. Walking past the door and glancing at the lock would immediately reveal the numbers. Of course, not even this would be necessary if Green already knew the combination to the lock from an inside source.
“We need to hurry here. Lunch break usually lasts for only about half an hour.”
“This will not take very long,” said Howie Carlson’s skilled parachutist comrade in his heavy Russian accent. “Look, here is Sergeant Corbett’s private equipment stretched neatly out on the packing table. How convenient!” The harness had a name tag reading CORBETT sewn onto the nylon material.
“He’s already pulled the sleeve down over the canopy and stowed the first two suspension-line locking stows. This is perfect!”
“Here is what we will do.” He smiled as he started working. “Watch this. I will just unlock these two stows temporarily, pull the sleeve back up to expose the canopy, and invert about seven or eight of the twenty-eight gores. I will wrap the tails of these inverted pieces of fabric with a half twist of tightened suspension lines. The locking flap will hide whatever changes we make, and it will look exactly the same as he left it. When Corbett pulls his ripcord, the pilot chute will extract the sleeve off into the wind, and the lines and canopy will be stretched, resulting in higher tension on these cords that are tied around the bottom ends of the inverted gores.” The Russian parachutist paused to admire his work and then continued. “There—all is set. Now, we pull the sleeve back down, covering not only the canopy”—he slowed his words with a distinct, shrewd tone—“but also our sly deed.”
Once the sleeve was in place, the expert told his appreciative audience, “We will lock the first two stows of suspension lines on the sleeve, making it appear just like it was when we found it, and it will look like nothing was ever touched.” When he finished, he proudly exclaimed, “If this parachute opens, it will be a miracle! Now, we must get out of here!”
The three men left, chuckling quietly, but the big smirks on their faces suggested hoots and cackles.
* * *
Falling at 120 miles per hour through 2,500 feet, Luke braced himself for the opening. The pilot chute extracted the sleeved canopy and suspension lines from the container, as expected. The chute, however, did not blossom open. The material above Luke did nothing more than lightly raise his body upright. The wind was ferocious. He was still falling at over one hundred miles per hour.
What’s this? What a bag of rags! The material is ripped, shreds whipping in the wind! This isn’t just a Mae West; this is a streamer! A streamer was one of the deadliest malfunctions a jumper could experience.
Stay tuned for more to come!