Airsoft Action 07 - Mar 2012 - Page 58

PATHFINDER PARACHUTE GROUP EUROPE Simon Chambers (author of Keepers of the Gateway to Hell) tells us how one UK-based group is bringing history to life – and you can be part of it! H is eyes watered as he stuck his face firmly into the slipstream and squinted. About a mile away on the horizon he could see the outline of the Sannerville Drop Zone approaching fast. Pulling himself back into the lumbering Douglas Dakota transport aircraft he peered around the first Paratrooper in the stick and waved to catch the attention of the loadmaster. “Five right!” he shouted and confirmed with a hand signal. The loadmaster cupped his hand over his radio mike to drown out the engine noise and repeated the request to the pilot. Ian felt the aircraft jerk ever so slightly; a quick glance out the door confirmed the pilot had made the course correction. Ian looked at Roy and smiled. The rest of the stick behind him were all hyped up. They 058 March 2012 were about to jump onto the Sannerville DZ in Normandy, a DZ no one had jumped onto since WWII. Pathfinder had been given permission by the Mayor to do just that. The honour was not lost on any of them. Two-thirds of the aircraft’s 24 jumpers were former Paratroopers from several different countries; the rest were historians, re-enactors and airborne enthusiasts. You have to be a very serious enthusiast to do this, though: it’s not cheap and it’s a high risk sport. Still, there is no shortage of jumpers. Each man had purchased reproduction uniform of the period representing most of the Allied airborne contingents involved in the original operation. They were all using green round military parachutes and would be jumping static line (not freefall). Apart from the fact that they were using steerable