What will be the parachute of the future, why managed the dome difficult to use in the interests of special forces and how to cope with a failed parachute in the long jump? This “MK” was told by a unique person — Nesterov Moscow, NII parachutostroeniya, the Colonel in resignation Vladimir Nesterov, which account for more than 13 thousand (!) skydiving.
photo: Grigory Milenin
— Vladimir Pavlovich, how do you become a skydiver test?
— When I studied at the Kiev aviation engineering school, we had organized a circle of skydivers. We put up about thirty cadets from all faculties. Three months was training on the ground, gradually the students were screened out. In the end, until the jump came only I did it on 16 April 1977. And graduated the school in July 1979. And in this period I made jumps as a parachutist-athlete DOSAAF.
After I graduated from College with honors, I was assigned to one of the closed scientific research institutes of the defense Ministry in Moscow region. And in the course of work in the Institute I was faced with a number of organizations, including 8-m State red banner scientific testing Institute (former name of the State flight test centre (glits) of the Ministry of defense). One of its subsidiaries was engaged in a test of parachute systems. I decided to go back to work, however, had a couple of years to wait, but in 1982 I was in the office. And after a year I began working there as test engineer in the human parachute systems. Me later on this work was given the opportunity to improve their parachute training, but with the caveat “in my free time”. I have devoted five of their vacations. When I reached a high level of training, I was allowed to test the jumps, I became a parachutist test.
In 1988 I defended the thesis and became Deputy head of testing Department. In 1990 Glica went to work in voenproekta NII parachutostroeniya and served there as a senior intructor test parachutes and ejection installations more than twenty years, until March 2011. When you reach the maximum age retired with the rank of Colonel. And a month later went to work at the Institute in the position of the skydiver test and chief test sections, in no way reside to this day.
— In what feature of work of the dream test?
— If you compare with other parachutists specialties — marine, lifeguard, athlete, — each performs a jump with a purpose. Therefore, while on Board the aircraft, each jumper is considering in mind your next jump. How to separate from the aircraft what to do in case of failure of the main dome and so on. And the specifics of the parachute-tester is that he, when the trial jump should be ready to any kind of failure of the parachute equipment, and if he was confronted with this, you have to understand what happened. Now you can use small cameras that can be clipped to yourself and use it as a good means of objective control. But before such funds were not, and Nesterov had to consider what happened to after landing to share with experts their observations.
And it needs to get done in seconds?
Depending on the height of the jump. Rare test jumps are made from altitudes below 800 meters, it happens that four kilometers of the jump. The more height, the more time remains for action in case of an emergency situation. The first thing that makes Nesterov for the outage — it captures the altitude at which it happened. So you can understand how much time is left before a dangerous limit. Then it evaluates the nature of the abnormal operation of the parachute system, if possible — trying to bring it in working condition. If it fails, then either disengages the faulty dome and reveals a spare, or spare system is operated automatically.
photo: Grigory Milenin
— Which test was the most difficult and interesting?
In General, the number of parachute jumps for me the most emotional was dropping inside the column. In the mid 1980-ies for airborne developed a new BMD-3, and one of the points of the task for its development was the possibility of landing with the crew. This idea was implemented more airborne commander Vasily Margelov was, in 1973 and 1976 were parachuted his son Alexander. When separate drops of crews BMD and technology vertical speed of combat vehicles and more. So upon landing at the Marines takes a lot of time looking for exactly your car.
So, when I was landed together with a colleague, we recorded a special harness system to chairs. But the paratrooper-test in case of failure should be the means of salvation. So we were assigned the spare parachutes. Worked out the list of failures, in which the testers had to leave the emergency car. We had a kind of dashboard, where you had the altimeter, vertical speed pointer, indicator lamps actuation depreciation BMD, we also had radio communication with each other and with the earth. The first fifteen seconds, we were obliged to sit still — as long as the car is not out of the plane and its parachute system did not come into action. The drop took place from a height of 1,500 metres, to give us extra time, while the desert lands with equipment of much smaller heights. When we were working on leaving the machine on the ground, it turned out that the harness release system and the outlet of the machine takes about 12 seconds. Then you need to separate from the BMD to fall for some time without opening the dome, while this machine did not fly past. Chances were few, but we’re professionals — managed.
Another experiment, which is remembered, is the test of gliding parachute special purpose SPE-90, made on a “wing”. Almost all testing has been completed, it is necessary to check one jump from the maximum flight weight 160 kg. I weighed 65 kilograms, the main and spare canopy added another 20 lbs. And everything else I had to reload due to the ballast. I jumped from a height of 4,000 meters at a top speed of ejection of 350 km/h. to provide necessary flight mass, I was hanging two loads of 30 kg backpack trooper RD-54 is filled with lead shot, and landing the container while parachuting down along with a trooper on the long tether. After 50 seconds, when it was necessary to enact the dome, the parachute refused the right part of the dome lost. But the specifics of the “wing” is that if one part is not disclosed, the parachutist gets to intense rotation. And I am in it with all its cargo came. Was only saved by the fact that there was a huge height and time enough to look around and work something out.
Another problem was that the wind blew across the airfield, and a spare canopy was round, that is out of control. The Navigator said that, whatever the failure, open the spare tire is not necessary above 1000 meters. Otherwise it will take off the airfield and to land on the forest on such a small dome is very traumatic.
— You could lose the goods?
— Yes, but one of the requirements during these tests is that the goods must fall into the working area of the airport, whether the landing technique, cargo or containers are suspended from the parachute. But my point was dropping out of the airfield. And had a rotating dome to wait for reduction to the desired location. Finally I was down in the area of the airfield, I got a knife and tried to cut the container. But his belt was pushed into the jump suit, and there was a danger to cut the wrong belt. I still felt the straps of the container, cut them, and he flew away. On I still have the backpack. The straps were under his harness. I got one of them cut. But, as was rotation, backpack, crawled in the back, spun several times and twisted my arm behind his back. The strap on the elbow and I need to unhook the failed dome and enter a replacement. I thought: now the spare wheel will open, jerk will be such that arm is definitely broken. Saved what was left of time. I unhooked the parachute and went into free fall. The height was not more than 1700 meters. Came the as akin to weightlessness, I was able to raise my arm several times with a knife slashed the strap, and the backpack is also gone. Look at the altimeter, which is still more than a thousand meters to the ground. And the spare tire should open at the height of a mile, that is guaranteed to get to the airport. And another problem: after discharge of cargo weakened the tension of the straps in the harness. And the disclosure of reserve parachute suspension strengthen weakened dynamic impact. The chute located on the chest, and overload when its dissolution is not acting in the direction of “head — pelvis” that is relatively favorable to the human body and in the direction “chest — back” when the spine is broken. Realizing that nothing to do, the straps will not tighten, I moved to a steady drop in his stomach. And in front of the opening turned slightly to one side, the dome never caught on. And then I remembered that the hand holding the knife. He would throw, especially as the sheath I’ve already lost, as it fell. But suddenly he is needed again if the spare tire will give the waiver? In General, I put it under the container, dopadas to a height of 800 meters and yanked the ring. The disclosure struck me very much, but I landed safely on the airfield.
— Why this type of parachutes, “wing”, so long “walked” in our army and other security agencies?
— All this talk about the fact that we are lagging behind in this direction were groundless. People who say this, just not in the know. In 1983 was conducted the flight research work on “Transfer”. Even then, stood the question of the application of gliding parachute systems for the solution of combat missions special forces units. Was made several hundred jumps with different types of aircraft and helicopters from altitudes of more than five miles, when the testers were jumping with oxygen cylinders. In the process worked out the layout of the oxygen equipment, which was created from serial devices of parachute rescue systems.
It turned out very difficult to solve the issue with navigation. When a group of paratroopers jumping from a few kilometers, the great value has correct determination of the point of discharge. At such altitudes, very strong winds, their speed is tens of meters per second. Therefore, even a gliding parachute and can carry very far. Another factor is that at different altitudes the wind direction changes. And without understanding on what the main blow streams of air at different heights, to the desired point of discharge can only be reached by pure chance. Therefore, the Navigator of the plane when climbing all the time checking the wind direction in different layers and before dropping skydivers giving everyone a cheat sheet. For example, “at the height of from five to four kilometers are you going with such and such course, then it is necessary to turn”. All the navigation equipment was of a skydiver altimeter and compass. Finally, the third problem was the connection between the parachute during the jump, so as not to interfere with each other.
Great difficulty was the landing on the gliding parachute. In fact, it corresponds to the landing in a glider. You need to approach strictly against the wind and the time to pull up the rear edge of the dome to reduce the speed. If you do this early, instead planning will begin fall, later — horizontal landing speed is very high. And for example, when entering sideways to the wind, there is a risk of folding of the dome. If the jump is performed in the afternoon on the airfield, like athletes, then there are no problems. But special forces will parachute at night on unfamiliar grounds. They can be limited to high obstacles such as urban rubble, and other things. Parachutist in such conditions it is impossible to determine the direction of the wind near the ground. It will not be the scout to throw down a smoke bomb — this will break the stealth. Jumping on the glade in the forest is fraught with the fact that it is impossible to approach the edge at a distance equal to two or even three heights of trees. The wind around them, creating turbulence, in which the canopy is wrinkled. Also turbulence can occur at lower over the forest. And to break it, the parachutist must plan, completely letting go of the toggles, at top speed. Then the maximal excess pressure in the dome and he was tightly inflated. The big danger was fraught landing with a cargo container on the tether, namely the “anchoring” of the load during landing. For round dome is not terrible, but if the air stayed gliding parachute, without flow it dived steeply into the ground.
In General, it has been exactly 30 years before the military returned to the question of the use of such parachutes. All test results were summarised in a detailed report, but for some reason these documents have lain for so many years without movement. Actually, now jumping gliding parachute special forces work out in fairly mild conditions.
— What will be the parachute of the future?
— All depends on its purpose. Parachutes are divided into several groups: search and rescue, landing, sports, and spare parachute systems for special purposes. The most conservative approach is to develop a rescue and landing parachutes. First clamped in the frame of limited dimensions. For example, in the ejection seat of a warplane it fits generally in the headrest. Besides parachute qualified pilot will not allow him to control the gliding parachute. In the mass emergency evacuation of the aircraft is at low altitudes and high speeds. And the main task of the rescue of the dome is to save the life of the pilot after ejection in the range from zero altitude and speed to a height of 20 kilometers at supersonic speed. If we talk about the changes that will improve protection of the pilot from the incoming flow, and the braking system of the ejection seat in the air to a speed reasonable for the disclosure of the dome. With the landing parachutes of the same. If you expect the dome to be a privilege of the special forces. When the mass landing they can not be used, because then there will be the inevitable mid-air collisions. Most of the paratroopers of the dome will remain round. On the other hand, today is intensively developing weapons and equipment for airborne, so flight weight of the parachutist is increasing. It will also require new materials for the manufacture of the domes. Same story with sport parachutes. In a word, everything depends on the fabric for the dome, ribbon for hanging the system, cords for slings and metal parts.
Something we have, something just developed. For example, materials with zero air permeability are located in Russia at the stage of pilot projects.
But last year it was stated that there were domestic air-tight fabric.
— “Army-2017” one of the forums under the auspices of the airborne forces was dedicated to the development of the parachute. There were heads of factories producing synthetic fibre and cloth from it. They proactively developed such fabrics. Currently we test the samples.
But the institution of the parachute receives orders for the development of new parachutes?
— The customer have always been predominantly one — the Ministry of defence. C 2016 we have opened a few experimental works on cargo and human subjects. Next year there is a backlog. My colleagues and I observed a more intense flow of orders.
— Change to grow?
— Trying. It is a headache for us and for military parachutists-test of the glits. When I came to this work in the early 1980-ies, the Institute was a line on the post test. The requirements are the most stringent: parachute qualification not lower than master of sports, good health and higher technical education. The same picture was and in the army, when a military parachutists wanted to go on a test job. The profession was prestigious and well-paid. Everything changed in the nineties. When I came to the Institute, most of the parachutists-the test was quit and went looking for another job to feed their families. And this problem has not been solved to this day. Our testing service comes with a parachute test, but so that someone is here sought from young people, I have not yet noticed. The youngest of the testers now over forty years, and I am more than sixty.
— This profession is purely male?
— I had not heard about women testers. And today we have Catherine Toldonova, Nesterov third grade. I’ve lost count how many she has world records. She is constantly involved in the group jumps, and when hundreds of people gather in one piece. In addition, she is a very good operator aerial filming well protected in a free fall. When we had to lock certain features of the work of the parachute in the air, she and her dome successfully kept shooting.
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