Dropping in on a long rope
Linton soldiers in the New Zealand Army's Enhanced Infantry Company have put aside their usual tasks to practise leaping from helicopters at Ohakea air base.
The company and the Royal New Zealand Air Force joined together to practise yesterday, with about 20 soldiers practising "swarming" from an Iroquois.
Swarming is when soldiers leave the helicopter by rope.
It differs from rappelling in that soldiers do not wear harnesses, and it is done when there is no place for the helicopter to land and soldiers need to leave the aircraft quickly.
They can swarm from a maximum height of 27m.
Rappelling is done from a maximum of 18m and uses a different kind of rope.
Officer in charge of the company Major Brad Taylor said the specialist group was formed last year as a contingency force that had enough training to provide backup for the Special Air Service (SAS) if needed.
The team was made up of regular soldiers who were given additional training, he said.
Training was regular so they were always ready to deploy at short notice, Major Taylor said.
Private Alec Wardle, originally from Pongaroa but based at Linton, joined the army two years ago and said getting down the thick black rope was more of a matter of technique than strength.
Being part of the team offered a chance to learn something new, he said.
"It's good to get away and do something different, a bit of diversity in the training."
The team also practised rappelling and hover jumping, where soldiers step out on the helicopter skids and jump a short distance to the ground. More pictures, P5