Aircrew survival equipmentman
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|Aircrew survival equipmentman|
Parachute rigger badge
|Issued by: United States Navy|
Aircrew survival equipmentmen, better known as “parachute riggers“, are personnel of the United States Navy. They perform a wide range of duties, which include inspecting, maintaining, and repairing parachutes, search and rescue equipment, along with survival kits, medical kits, flight clothing, protective wear, night vision equipment, aircrew oxygen systems, liquid oxygen converters, anti-exposure suits, and anti-gravity suits. PRs operate and maintain carbon dioxide transfer and recharge equipment, operate and repair sewing machines as well as train aircrew and other personnel in parachute rigging and the use of safety and survival equipment.
- 1 History
- 2 Training
- 3 Rating badges and parachutist insignia
- 4 Special operations parachute rigger
- 5 United States Navy Parachute Team (Leap Frogs)
- 6 Notable parachute riggers
- 7 References
The PR rating was established in 1942 to help meet World War II parachute survival requirements. When founded, the PR rating consisted only of the general service rating with career progression from striker status through PRC. Due to safety reasons service members are no longer allowed to “strike” for PR and must attend the appropriate technical schools to be designated in this rating. The original title of the rating was parachute rigger. The rating title was changed to its present title of aircrew survival equipmentman in December, 1965. The reason for changing the title from parachute rigger to aircrew survival equipmentman was to provide a more realistic description of the types of duties performed by PRs. However, aircrew survival equipmentmen maintained their official abbreviated title of “PR” after the 1965 name change.
Following a fatal training accident in the 1980s, students are no longer required to complete the basic parachute jump to earn their rating badge.
United States Navy parachute riggers are now trained at Naval Air Station Pensacola during a twelve-week (55 training days) school (the initial school, or “A school”, for the rating). The school includes nine courses: three courses of “common core” skills over 19 days, three courses of organizational-level (O-level) skills for 17 days, and three courses of intermediate-level (I-level) skills for 19 days.
Throughout the course of instruction, students undergo physical training at least three times a week, are subjected to rigorous inspections every Monday, and march between buildings. Students must maintain a grade average of 80 to remain in the course.
Organizational level course
O-level begins with instruction in sewing. Students are then taught to manufacture a complete rigger bag from scratch and learn the importance and policies of tool control. The next course is NB-8 parachutes, in which students learn the basics of parachute rigging, inspection cycles, and nomenclature. This is followed by a course about general survival equipment named ESE. The organizational series of courses follows, beginning with survival I fixed wing followed by survival II rotary wing, in which students learn inspection and maintenance concepts unique to squadron-level work. The final O-level subject is survival radios.
While the rating is closed to non graduates, O-level certification may be attained by flight crew personnel who maintain and repair equipment at sea in the absence of a parachute rigger.
Intermediate level course
I-level series of courses starts with NES-12, the Navy’s most complicated parachute system, for advanced rigging concepts. Seat survival kits and life preservers complete the course of instruction. One class graduates from the PR A school every seven training days.
In addition to “A” School, “C” and “F” schools offer specialty training in oxygen systems and sewing machine repair. These schools require the student to enlist for a period of 6 years and are often a prerequisite for senior level positions in a paraloft.
The American Council on Education recommends that two semester hour credits be awarded in the vocational certificate category in sewing machine operation, service, and maintenance, and two in parachute packing and inspection; additionally, 3 semester hours in lower-division bachelor’s/associate’s degree category in aviation safety equipment repair/maintenance. Credits may also be earned for other follow-on training (“C” schools) throughout your career.
Senior and master rigger licensing
For military personnel, the Federal Aviation Administration will grant a senior parachute rigger licenses and ratings to parachute riggers with the completion of a written exam and a letter of recommendation from their commanding officer . Along with the requirements for senior rigger, master parachute rigger licensing may be attained after the service members presents evidence to the FAA that he has had at least 3 years of experience as a parachute rigger, and has satisfactorily packed at least 100 parachutes of each of two types in common use. Specific guidelines for this process are detailed in FAA Regulations Sub Part F 65.117.
Rating badges and parachutist insignia
The rating badge for enlisted personnel may only be worn by service members who have completed Parachute Rigger “A” school.
The Navy and Marine Corps issue parachutist insignia in two degrees: the U.S. military basic parachutist badge, also called the basic parachustist insignia (pictured below, as awarded to all DoD military services), and the Navy and Marine Corps parachutist insignia (pictured below). Parachutist insignia are available to personnel who perform jumps as a:
- Static-line parachute jumper
- Military free-fall parachute jumper
- High altitude/low opening (HALO) parachute jumper (used for premeditated personnel parachute operations)
The Navy and Marine Corps parachutist insignia (formerly the naval parachutist insignia) is a gold-colored embroidered or metal insignia depicting an open parachute with outstretched wings. It is authorized for officers and enlisted personnel who were awarded the basic parachutist insignia and, under competent orders, have completed a minimum of five additional static-line or premeditated personnel parachute jumps, to include a combat equipment day jump, two combat equipment night jumps, and employ at least two different types of military aircraft.
Training is accomplished by successful completion of the prescribed course of instruction while attending one of:
- U.S. Army basic airborne course
- U.S. Army basic military free-fall parachutist course
- Other training certified by Chief of Naval Education and Training or approved by the Chief of Naval Operations
Special operations parachute rigger
Special operations parachute riggers work with Navy SEALS, Naval Special Warfare and explosive ordnance disposal units throughout the world. They inspect, maintain, pack, and use specialized premeditated personnel static line and military free fall parachute systems. They use and maintain specialized aerial delivery and re-supply systems, and helicopter insertion and extraction systems unique to NSW and EOD units. They function as parachute jump and helicopter rope suspension techniques masters. They also perform paraloft management, administrative functions, ordnance handling functions, and quality assurance inspections.
The United States Navy Parachute Team, commonly known as “the Leap Frogs”, is the parachute demonstration team of the United States Navy. It consists of active-duty personnel drawn from aircrew survival equipmentmen, naval special warfare, including Navy SEALs, special warfare combatant-craft crewmen, and support personnel . The Leap Frogs are all volunteers. The team is sanctioned by the Department of Defense and recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration. The team was officially commissioned as the U.S. Navy Parachute Team in 1974 by the Chief of Naval Operations and assigned the mission of demonstrating Navy excellence throughout the United States.
The Leap Frogs will make no more public appearances after budget cuts due to sequestration went into effect April 1, 2013. However, the team will continue to practice their skills, and will also assist Navy SEALs and students with their parachute training.
Notable parachute riggers
- Chief Alva Starr and Chief Lyman Ford, 1st Navy parachute riggers
- PRCM William Offenhauser, Navy’s first master chief parachute rigger
- PRCM Gregory A. Carroll, Fleet Readiness Center Mid Atlantic (FRCMA)
- PRCS Kevin Strong, Naval Air Forces, ALSS class desk
- PRC Brian Hawkins, FAILSAFE Coordinator, CBR ISSC Team
- PRC Jeff Hobrath, NavyChief.com
- PRC Marie E. Johnson, 2011 Pacific Fleet “sailor of the year”
- PRC Amy E. Davis, 2010 United States Fleet Forces “sea sailor of the year”
- PR1 Thomas Kinn, US Navy Parachute Team
- PR1 Andrew J. Lightner, Navy SEAL Team (killed in training, 2009)
- PRC Nick J. Yandell, Class Desk CNAL, ISSC Team, A, C School Instructor.
- PR1 Nathan Strickland, SERE Instructor, CENSECFORDET Kittery
- “Navy enlisted manpower and personnel classifications”. Bureau of Naval Personnel. US Navy. Archived from the original on 2 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-11.
- Johnson (Editor), Khari. “No Parachute for Budget Cuts: Leap Frogs to Leap No More in 2013”. http://imperialbeach.patch.com. Retrieved May 7, 2013.