Junior smokejumpers

The Missoulian has an excellent article about a program at the Missoula smokejumper base which introduces kids to the concept of jumping out of perfectly good airplanes into forest fires. (Is this child abuse?)

Here is an excerpt:

Fourteen-year-old Gunnar Nabozney took a Junior Smokejumper class a few days ago.

Eight-year-old Molly White smiles behind the mask of a jump helmet at the end of her Junior Smokejumper camp last week. Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian

It’s not entirely clear he needed it, as he seemed to already know plenty about fires, airplanes and parachutes.

“Isn’t this the same system that paratroopers used in World War II?” Nabozney asked smokejumper Travis Parker as the class looked about a DC-3 jump plane.

“Pretty much, although we do things a little differently than they did,” a surprised Parker said to Nabozney, one of five kids taking part in the class sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service Smokejumper Center. “In fact, they learned how to do this by watching how we did it way back then.”

Despite his wealth of knowledge, Gunnar, his brother Joren and three other youngsters learned a lot during the one-day smokejumper program.

“We’ve had about 100 kids go through this this summer, and they really seem to enjoy it,” said Molly Cottrell, who taught the class with an assist from Parker and folks at the National Weather Service.

The kids come away with a heightened sense of what it means to be a smokejumper. But they also learned about fire, its behavior and how that behavior is influenced by weather.

“It’s pretty neat stuff,” 10-year-old Joren Nabozney said.

Thanks Dick

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.