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Jumpers to Russia

by Doug Houston |

Bruce Ford, age 53, is another in a handful of current smokejumpers who is approaching 300 fire jumps. He rookied in 1975 at Missoula and stayed there thru the 1991 season, then transferred to Fairbanks BLM where he still returns every spring. He has totalled over 500 jumps with more than 280 fire jumps.

Bruce is a very unique individual who probably has lost more brain cells than I have/had which means that he is a smart guy. He "hobbies" in art, mathematics, beer bottle collecting, reading, and travel. He speaks Chinese and spent a year living in China. He also speaks spanish and is fluent in Russian.

January 12th he is off to Russia. This is one of several trips that Bruce has taken to Russia. Three or four trips have been sponsored by the US government. Bruce will meet Bob Schober, a current Boise jumper, 95 MSO rookie, and tour St Petersburg and Moscow before heading to Siberia. They will take a month long trip touring the country and the many smokejumper bases along the Russian/Siberian border.

Included will be visits to many of his smokejumper friends that he made during his previous trips. His hopes are to find some of the older jumpers for interviews and research the aerial fire protection service gaining historical information on the Russian smokejumper program. This he will share with us in articles for the Smokejumper Magazine.

So, stay tuned and the best to Bruce and Bob on their travels.