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Dale Longanecker (RAC-74) Retires

by by Doug Houston (RAC-73) |

A North Cascades Smokejumper Base employee retired September 20 after completing 893 Forest Service parachute jumps-a record that may never be broken given the longevity of his 38-year smokejumping career. Dale Longanecker’s total Forest Service parachute jumps include practice, fire suppression and rescue jumps. His record includes 362 fire jumps.Smokejumpers often make a distinction between practice and fire suppression jumps because the latter are often more hazardous and located far from medical assistance. The excitement of parachuting to forest fires was not the reason he jumped for 38 years. “It was the opportunity to be on small fires in remote locations,” Longanecker said. “It was just a great way to see the country.” The base’s parachute loft supervisor and a Federal Aviation Administration-approved master parachute rigger, he worked with the Missoula Technology and Development Center before retirement to develop an FS-15 parachute prototype which will potentially replace the FS-14 parachute now used by all Forest Service smokejumpers.
An addition from Mike McMillan (FBX-96): I read Doug's write-up on Dale. He writes that the FS-14 is now used by all USFS smokejumpers. Not true.There are USFS Ram-Air only jumpers at all bases except for Redding.They are part of the USFS New-Man Ram Air Program, initiated years ago.These USFS jumpers do not jump the round anymore, squares only, bless their hearts. P.S. Great job Dale!