Surrey army cadet Jesse Robinson, 17, is tops overall in his parachuting course. (Photo: Submitted)

Surrey army cadet Jesse Robinson, 17, is tops overall in his parachuting course. (Photo: Submitted)

Surrey high-flyer wins army cadet parachuting award

Surrey army cadet enjoys rewarding experience, and gets an award in the process

Sometimes, having high aspirations can take you way, way up high.

And, if you‘re Jesse Robinson, you get lofty recognition back down on the ground.

The 17-year-old Whalley resident and recent Kwantlen Park Secondary grad finished top dog after spending his summer vacation — this past July, anyway — parachuting at Canadian Forces Base Trenton among a select group of army cadets.

“Basically all of July I was in Ontario, training,” Robinson tells the Now-Leader.

“I’ve worked hard to get through this basic parachute course. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s been a goal of mine for a very long time.”

“The top jumper award during our jump school was kind of for me I guess being proficient in all of my drills and doing everything properly, exceeding I guess.”

Robinson describes what it’s like to jump out of an airplane at 1,250 feet.

“It’s called a static line parachute, and basically you’re hooked up inside the plane, and you jump out. Your static line pulls the chute for you, so once you jump out of the plane you have about four seconds until the canopy fully deploys and your descent total is about 40 seconds to a minute long.”

His first jump, ever, was in Trenton. “It’s kind of hard to explain. You’re up in the plane, like you’re flying around 1,250 feet and roughly about 10 minutes before you jump out they’ll open the doors. So you’re sitting in this plane, they open the doors and you can just hear the wind is just blowing past you. It’s pretty exciting.”

Was it scary?

“For me it wasn’t; for others there was definitely fear of heights.”

Robinson is planning to study physiotherapy at college in September. “Hopefully I can become a physiotherapist for the Forces,” he says.

“This has been a big part of my life.”

Chief Warrant Officer Robinson serves as a regimental sergeant major with the 2822 Royal Westminster Regiment army cadets.

“He joined when he was 12, and he did all the things cadets have to do to work their way up in rank,” says Martin Hilmer, his commanding officer. “He’s always got excellent reports.”

Every year, the Canadian Forces runs a cadet parachute course. “You have to be in top physical shape for that,” Hilmer explains. “They have do be able to do so many push-ups and chin-ups. And then they get to on what’s called a ‘pre-para’ course, and this year it was held in Chilliwack. At that point they weed out the people who just don’t make it, so to speak, and this year they had 49 candidates” from across Canada — five from B.C. — “and they go to the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton (in the city of Quinte West, Ontario).”

“He is so committed,” Hilmer says of the teen. “He even had laser surgery so that his vision would be up to snuff to go on the course.”

“After they finish, they get what are called wings, they’re like parachute wings, that they can wear on their uniform. Of the 49 cadets, Jesse came in top. He won the overall top jumper award.”