Talk about making an entrance.
For most people their commute to work does not involve a parachute.
For New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel it could be essential.
The NZDF has swapped the desert heat of Arizona for the summer sun of Alexandra to run a parachute training exercise across Central Otago this month.
About 20 personnel are based in Alexandra comprising students, packers (those tasked with ensuring the storage and safety of parachute equipment), and instructors.
Air Force Squadron Leader Ceilidh Martin said Covid-19 scuppered plans for the RNZAF Parachute Training Support Unit to train in the US state, and Alexandra was selected for its conditions of low wind and little cloud cover.
Her colleague, Warrant Officer Justin Tamehana, said the training encompassed parachuting as a method of delivering military personnel, military equipment, and other military supplies from a transport aircraft at a high altitude.
Two techniques were used, HALO (high altitude — low opening, often called a HALO jump) and HAHO (high altitude — high opening).
The biggest difference between military and civilian parachuting should be fairly obvious, he said.
‘‘Civilians parachute for recreation, military personnel use it to get to work.
‘‘It is about inserting combat troops into an area where an aircraft can’t land.’’
That also included tandem parachute jumps to take nonmilitary such as medical professionals into the same territory.
The exercise runs until February 26 and training started on Tuesday, with six NZDF personnel being put through their paces jumping from a Caravan 208 aircraft contracted from North Shore aviation business Airlift New Zealand.
The Hercules will return for the training exercises on February 10 and will operate around Alexandra, Omakau, Wanaka, and Dunedin, where it will be based between flights.
The training includes both day and night time jumps.