As the Shuttle Gears Up, so Do They:

Pararescue jumpers with Air Force Reserve Command’s 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., have been getting some practice for the July 1 space shuttle launch. That training has included what’s called a RAMZ (for rigging alternate method Zodiac) deployment, developed primarily for astronaut recovery or other open water rescues. The PJs put an engine, fuel, and medical equipment into an inflatable Zodiac boat, but they keep the air out and wrap the boat into a four-foot cube. The cube, attached to two cargo parachutes, then gets ejected from one of the wing’s HC-130 airlifters, followed by the PJs in a free fall jump. Once in the water, they inflate the boat. AFRC journalist 1st Lt. Cathleen Snow calls it another “typical PJ day.”