The most dangerous part of parachuting is most likely the parachute itself. If the parachute doesn’t open or gets jammed, you aren’t likely to survive unless you have a reserve. However, a British soldier has miraculously survived his very own parachute mishap after he survived a 4572-meter fall (15,000 foot) when his parachute failed to open fully leaving him at the mercy of God.
The British soldier was over Via Ceilo around 322 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles when his parachute failed to open fully and he experienced a freefall down. Residents were shocked when they saw a man falling from the sky and straight into one of their roofs. Images of the ordeal were shared over Twitter showing that the soldier was mostly unharmed but no one expected him to come out that unscathed.
The soldier was part of Camp Roberts where they were performing HALO training. Not the game, HALO is High Altitude Low Opening jumps. This is a training regime that Airborne soldiers undergo. HALO is used to insert troops and equipment into hostile territory. It involves dropping them from heights as high as 12,192 meters. Low opening means that parachutes are only opened at 914 meters before reaching the ground. So you’re basically done for if your parachute fails at the point.
In this particular exercise, the paratrooper fell from a height of 4572 meters when his main parachute failed to open. He opted to use his reserve chute and deployed it in a bid to slow his descent. However, it didn’t open fully in time and he missed the drop zone completely. He fell rapidly and crashed through the roof of a building. He was quickly recovered by emergency services. Atascadero Police Department gave out details of the incident in a social media post.
Surviving freefall is certainly a very rare occurrence. Skydivers reach terminal velocity fairly quickly which is around 120 mph or 200 km/h. So falling from 15,000 feet doesn’t really differ much from 1,500 feet as the velocity is the same. Since the soldier was slowed down a little by the half-open parachute in this case, his survival rate went up slightly. The rest we can just chalk up to his good luck. Similar reports from World War II also talked about how soldiers survived free falls of over 20,000 feet.
If it was me instead of that soldier, I’d stay away from parachutes for the rest of my life, to be honest. Since I’d have used up a life’s worth of luck.