History was made Tuesday afternoon at Fryar Field on Fort Benning when a class of more than 400 Airborne students jumped for the first time using the new T-11 parachute system.

“Today’s jump is huge,” said Lt. Col. Jon A. Ring, commander of the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 507th Infantry Regiment of the 199th Infantry Brigade. “It’s very historic for the 1-507th, the U.S. Army Airborne School here at Fort Benning, because it’s the first time in over 51 years that we’ve introduced a brand new, completely redone parachute system to the Army and to the Department of Defense.”

The T-11 is vastly different from its predecessor, the T-10, in almost every way, from the size and shape of its canopy to its average rate of descent.
“What happened is we had the T-10 parachute, which was in the field for over 50 years and the requirements have changed for the Airborne soldier,” said Maj. Jason Morneault, assistant product manager for Program Managers Clothing and Individual Equipment, a part of PEO Soldier, based out of Fort Belvoir, Va. “He’s got more equipment, he’s weighing a lot more. And so we got the requirement to develop a new parachute and for the past 12 years we’ve been working on this T-11 parachute.”

Pvt. Jonathan Whitley, 17, of Mississippi had the distinction of being one of the first in his company to step from the belly of a massive C-130 airplane with the T-11 strapped to his back 1,250 feet above Fryar Field.

“It was pretty awesome,” said Whitley, who was jumping out of an airplane for the first time.
As for the significance of using a brand new parachute, he wasn’t as enthusiastic.

“I honestly didn’t think that it was that big a deal because it’d already been tested a lot,” he said. “I guess it is.”

Source: Lily Gordon for the Ledger-Enquirer.

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