Check out one soldier's dispatch from Air Assault school.
(Photo: Jamal Nasrallah / Landov | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013)
I was at Air Assault school in '86. Part of the graduation requirement was to rappel with pack from a helicopter 100’ in the air. We were on a Huey as we rose to the required height for the test, and were told to assume our “L” positions on the helicopters skids before being commanded to “GO.”
As I rotated into position, I somehow inverted my carabiner (or snap link, as we referred to them) to where the “gate” was on top vs. the bottom, and was open. One of two lines I was hanging from was vibrating towards the opening.
The “Rappel master” pointed at me and gave the “GO!” signal, (the “steely” vertical open handed point). I aggressively shook my head in the negative and pointed with my nose (as best one can) at my snap link. It took a couple of iterations of giving me a GO! and me signing NO! before he realized my dilemma and gave me a thumbs up (like that made me feel better) as he gave the other three their “GO” signal. The rappel master spoke into his microphone and gave me a smile and reassuring thumbs up.
I started to slide inverted under the helicopter as the rope slid through my gloved hands. My pack wasn’t helping. At this point, one of the two lines sprung out of my snap link. The instructor tried to pull me back in the aircraft but couldn’t reach me. He busily spoke into his microphone and gave me ANOTHER reassuring thumbs up. As I smiled all I could think was “thanks for nothing, bro.”