Miranda Boatman took a summer course for a different perspective — as in, 1,200 feet off the ground, falling at 130 mph.
Boatman, a Penn State Behrend ROTC student from Spring Township, jumped from that altitude several times on her way to completing the Army’s Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Ga. Her father, John Boatman, pinned the famous airborne jump wings on her uniform during an Aug. 8 ceremony at the camp.
Over three weeks, the junior learned to execute jumps, deploy parachutes, land safely, pack swiftly and move to a designated rally point.
“The best part of the training was being able to work with military members from all the services,” she said in an Army news release. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
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Boatman literally worked her way up to graduation.
She started with “ground week,” though her boots didn’t stay earthbound for long. Once she had mastered the gear, harnesses and drills on properly breaking falls, the Army hoisted her to the top of a 34-foot tower for practice landings.
Then came “tower week,” focused, naturally, on jump towers. Boatman advanced on special training rigs, such as suspended harnesses that prepare soldiers for eventual jumps from 250 feet. It’s all designed to teach the different phases of parachute flight: opening shock, chute deployment, steering and other components.
She finished another unit before moving on. When planning to exit planes in flight, it never hurts to review parachute malfunctions and emergency procedures.
Finally, Boatman survived “jump week,” a chaotic finale that tests endurance. Five jumps later, including one at night, she stood proudly before her dad, wearing the small wings that tell the world how large a heart beats beneath her camouflage shirt.
“When you first jump, you remind yourself to go through the procedures you learned while training,” she said in the Army release. “After the course is over and you look back at it all, it’s an amazing accomplishment.”
Soon, she’ll again jump — back into her normal routine at Penn State Behrend, where she runs on the cross-country team.
But she’ll be a stronger, braver person than before.
That’s what comes from living the high life for three unforgettable summer weeks.