By Wu Yongjie and Wang Yukai
A lingering anxiety came with nervousness. Near the cabin tailgate, Master Sergeant Class One Wang Guolin, the chief parachute coach assigned to the 76th Group Army of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) saw the parachute landing field after four years. The earthy yellow barren field located more than 4,000 meters above sea level.
In 2015, at the same parachute landing field, air delivering man Wang Guolin received the instruction of suspending parachute training from the ground. A few minutes ago, the parachutes of company commander Wu Jian and another soldier collided with each other. In order to save the soldier, Wu Jian missed the minimum height of opening the backup parachute and unfortunately fell to the ground and died.
The parachute training stopped. Later, his comrades buried the company commander’s military uniform in the place where he fell. Also buried was the red ribbon that Wu tied when he parachuted.
The parachuting drill was resumed a week later, but this parachute landing area seemed to be a hidden scar that no one had the courage to access again.
Now, returning here again, as if verifying what Wang Guolin had said when he buried his company commander’s relics: “Please stay at the parachute landing field, you will see how we carry on with your unfinished parachuting mission.”
Wang pulled back his thoughts and stared at the “footprints” pattern on the non-slip mat, he was a little lost. Around him, neither the roar of the propeller, the pungent smell of fuel in the cabin, nor the several helicopters trailing behind can disturb his focus in the next few dozen seconds.
“Step on the ‘footprints’, tighten your whole body, precise control, tighten ‘three points’...”
828 meters is the normal height set by the special operations troops in parachute training. Before jumping out of the cabin, Wang Guolin once again replayed the parachuting movement in his mind dozens of times. At 43, he is no longer as young as before, and therefore each movement must be done closer to the standard.
This is Wang Guolin’s 2166th parachuting. The habit of taking the lead in the first jump every year has been kept since he became a parachute instructor at the age of 22.
Back in the 1990s, Wang Guolin completed the first parachuting in the airborne troops of the PLA Air Force only four months after he was recruited. During the same period, an army infantry regiment was converted into a special operations group.
Due to the lack of parachuting backbones at that time, the parachutes suitable for special operations were covered with ash in the warehouse of the PLA Army’s special operations troops. In 1998, Wang Guolin, who already became a parachuting backbone, and three other airborne soldiers were selected into the PLA Army’s special operations troops. At this point, various parachute courses gradually got into the training curriculum of the PLA Army’s special operations troops.
Later, Wang Guolin and his comrades participated in the “Sharp Blade-2013” Special Operations Competition, and set a record of high-altitude parachuting at 5,300 meters above the sea level in the whole military. Last year, they went to Russia to participate in the “Peace Mission-2018” joint military drill and completed the most difficult parachute operation: they jumped from a height of 1,500 meters and crossed 900 meters of clouds...
In every mission, Wang Guolin is like a warrior, without hesitation. During his 2,166 times of parachuting, Wang Guolin has encountered more than 10 aerial events and opened the backup parachute three times, two of which occurred in recent years.
2,166 times of parachuting also brought irreversible damage to Wang Guolin’s ligaments and meniscus. The medic urged Wang Guolin to stop the parachuting and go through a surgery as soon as possible. But for him, the temptation of parachuting is hard to resist. The adrenaline soars as the moment he touches the ground and the fighting mood brings an unprecedented experience.
Wang Guolin had never expect to jump 2,166 times when he landed with his parachute for the first time 26 years ago.
Now, parachuting has become part of his life.