Up History Wacos Smokejumpers



Extracted from: Development and Use of the Waco CG-4A Cargo Glider Deceleration Parachute, Compiled by Charles L. Day and Leon B. Spencer Edited by William T. Milanovits and Marion "Smokey" Miller

"One of the biggest problems facing the architects of the USMF World War II Glider Program was finding a means of safely landing and stopping a fully-loaded and frequently overloaded CG-4A glider in some of the small fields of occupied Europe. To compound the problem, many of the glider landing zones in Normandy, France, was surrounded by earthen hedgerows on which grew 40 to 60 feet trees. During tactical flight training glider pilots were taught the techniques of losing altitude quickly; i.e., slowing the glider to just above stall speed, while at the same time using the wing spoilers and/or side slipping the glider. But side slipping a heavy glider close to the ground could be very dangerous. In addition to losing altitude quickly, a means of stopping the glider ground roll was also essential. Unless a solution to this dilemma was found quickly, many glider pilots and their passengers were in danger of being injured or killed during combat landings. Headquarters, USMF assigned the task of finding a solution to the problem to the Glider Branch of the Aircraft Laboratory at Wright Field, near Dayton, Ohio.

"...In June 1944, shortly after the D-Day landings in Normandy, France, several photographs crossed Milanovits' desk showing gliders on the ground in Normandy with decelerations chutes deployed. This was his first indication that the CG-4A deceleration parachute he had worked on had been used in combat. He was pleased that it had worked as intended. He did not think about this project again until fifty-five years later when he attended the 29th annual National WWII Glider Pilot Association Reunion in St. Louis, Missouri, in October 1999. At the reunion he talked to a number of glider pilots about his involvement in the deceleration parachute project, and was warmly welcomed by the officers and other attendees of the association. He was then deluged with questions about the project..."

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