National Geographic : 1941 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine Starf 1'hotograplier J. Baylor Hoberts Pigeons Are Trained by the Army to Carry Messages Under Fire This mobile pigeon loft at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, houses 60 birds. Mounted on a truck, it is easily moved to maneuvers. Several pigeon fanciers gave their birds to the Signal Corps; drafted later, they happily found themselves assigned to pigeon work at Fort Monmouth, thus reunited with their own birds (page 15). At left is a Wisconsin draftee who indicated on his yellow classification card that he wanted to be a pigeoneer, because since boyhood he had raised and raced pigeons. So here he is! Over and over they bounced, forwards, back wards, and sideways. Student parachute jumpers they were, learn ing how to fall without getting hurt. Later, in actual practice, I saw some jumpers hit the ground so hard you could hear them grunt as they landed a hundred yards away. One got tangled in the shrouds of his chute, was dragged by the wind, and nearly choked. Red marks showed on his neck. "There's lots to learn about this business," one chutist told me. "Often you'll hit easier if you're swinging back and forth as you land; you can get a better tumble that way." With "Tug" Wilson, pioneer jumper who has trained scores, we went with the 12 boys into the plane from which they jump (pages 12 and 13). Commanding here is a "jump master." He sends them out, one after the other, saying, "Jump! "-"Jump! "-"Jump!" As each man's chute opens, he yells "Geronimo!" In fact, we heard them all yelling and whistling as they went down. It's surprising how far the human voice carries from the upper air. One jumper's main chute failed to open by the automatic device. He went down, down, and our hearts stopped. All too near the earth-so it seemed even to old para chutists-he pulled the ripcord on his emer gency chute, worn in front. It opened barely a hundred feet from the ground. "That jerked his breakfast upside down, but saved his hide," another jumper said. We heard later of a chute that caught on the plane's tail and swung the man through mid-air at a dizzy speed for five minutes. Then it came loose and he reached the ground unhurt. To rate "expert parachutist" a boy must have made six jumps, from heights of 750 to 1,500 feet. Before anybody jumps, the plane throws out "Oscar," a dummy. His chute shows wind speed and direction. In practice, they don't jump if the wind is over 12 miles. In war the wind wouldn't stop them. Lieut.