FREDERICK, OK (KSWO) - People of all walks of life gathered together at Frederick Army Air Field to try something that they've never done before. They've signed up for their annual jump school so they could parachute out of a vintage World War II plane.
The students went through classroom training, followed by hands-on training and exercises where they practiced jumping and landing. The last thing students had to do before making the leap was pass an exam. Students spent Friday morning parachuting from the plane to reach the number of jumps required to earn their wings.
Twelve students from across the United States are trying to get five jumps out of this airplane to complete a nine-day course. Thursday, all 12 students were able to complete two jumps. Mark Castiglione, who says he is jumping in honor of his father, brought a piece of his father's parachute that he used in World War II.
"When you're looking out that door, you know, you can only imagine what it was like 70 years ago, but the feeling is just exhilarating. You're literally jumping out of a plane and sitting down backwards at 120 mph and waiting for the tug of that parachute. It's incredible," Mark Castiglione said.
Mark Castiglione's father parachuted into Normandy on D-Day had a completely different experience than his son and grandson experienced.
"My jump was in daytime, not nighttime. My jump was at 1,500 feet not below 900 feet. There was no one shooting at me and Normandy Hitler flooded all the lowliness and there was a bunch of people on the ground that wanted to kill him. So, I pretty much had it a whole lot easier than he did," Mark Castiglione said.
Matthew Castiglione's grandfather passed away just before he was born. He says this is a way for him to experience something he did to learn more about him and his life experiences. He says he was the first in line to jump out of the plane and he was nervous, but he knew he had to jump.
"A lot of us could barely even get out on the ground doing it properly by the book so I could only imagine with all the gear and the flack fire and everything that was going on and you know, knowing that most of your brothers weren't going to come back home and it might happen that second, it might happen two days later, a month later but it made me feel a lot more confident about my own jumping. It gave me kind of a little motivation to get it done," Matthew Castiglione said.
It means a lot the Castigliones to be able to get their wings.
"Fifth time is a big deal, that's your qualification to jump. That means that you're in the boys club with the other boys," Mark Castiglione said.
Since they completed all their jumps, students will earn their wings tomorrow a ceremony where World War II Veterans will pin them on them. They're holding an Open Hangar Day Saturday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Frederick Army Air Field. You can see the students jump along with their cadre.