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Parachute Problems Ground 18th Airborne

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FORT BRAGG — Fort Bragg's18th Airborne Corpsand division units are grounded; parachute jumps have been suspended indefinitely. The reason: reserve parachutes in more than half of those tested do not work.

The defect was discovered on the ground after a jump. A soldier accidentally pulled the rip cord grip on his reserve parachute -- and it didn't work. If discovered in the air, a parachute failure could have been deadly.

"We've tested ten parachutes and of those ten parachutes six of them did not deploy," says LTC Rick Spearman. "If there's good news in that, when we took them apart, they were packed 100 percent correct."

Fort Bragg officials say hundreds of the reserve parachutes may be defective. The parachutes were modified several months ago, but they can no longer use the old ones.

"Right now we see it as a short-range problem," says Spearman. "We hope to get some guidance on Monday as to why this is happening and maybe some idea on how to fix it."

Almost 500 soldiers at Fort Bragg were scheduled to jump Thursday. Those jumps were cancelled. Several hundred more are scheduled to jump on Monday; that jump may also be cancelled.

The entire corps is scheduled to jump on Tuesday. Those jumps are in jeopardy as well.

Fort Bragg will test 280 reserve parachutes on Friday to try to find out why they don't work properly.

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John McDonnell, Reporter
Doug Bricker, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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