British Soldier Falls 15,000 Feet After A Parachute Failure — And Survives!

Photo Credit: Spc. Gary Silverman / U.S. Army
Photo Credit: Spc. Gary Silverman / U.S. Army

On July 6th, 2021, a British soldier miraculously survived a 15,000-foot fall after his parachute failed to open correctly. He crashed through the roof of a house and landed in the kitchen.

The incident happened over California during a HALO training exercise. HALO, an acronym for High Altitude Low Opening, is a type of parachute insertion used by militaries, including the British SBS and SAS special forces. This technique is particularly useful during covert operations as the aircraft flies at high altitudes, and the parachutists are less likely to be seen thanks to the high-speed freefall that makes up most of the drop.

Over the skies of Atascadero, California, the British parachutist’s training exercise went awry when his chute failed to properly deploy. Recognizing this, the soldier opened his reserve chute, but it did not have enough time to fully deploy due to the low altitude.

Speeding towards the ground in a scene resembling a living nightmare, the soldier smashed through the roof of a bungalow.

After witnessing the fall, stunned locals were quick to call the emergency services.

Neighbor Rose Martin witnessed the event: “I was in shock. I’m like, what?” She said. “So I ran in to make sure he was okay and I checked on him and his eyes were open but I wasn’t sure if there were any injuries. I didn’t want anyone to move him.”

Martin and many others were extremely shocked by the soldier’s seemingly impossible survival. She said “It’s a miracle in my estimation, really. I mean, who lands like that without a parachute and lives?”

Thankfully, no one was home at the time.

The soldier broke through the roof of the house, fell through the attic, and landed in the kitchen. The homeowner’s mother, Linda Sallady said: “[He] came through the roof, through the tresses and there’s not that much damage in the house.

“It’s amazing. It’s mostly the ceiling, the sheetrock. He missed the counters, appliances, everything.”

When he was found, the soldier was conscious and complained of some pain but incredibly had not sustained any serious injuries. Atascadero Fire & Emergency Services treated him at the scene before taking him to the hospital.

halo jump in progress
Photo Credit: Spc. Justin English/Released / U.S. Army

HALO jumps are extremely useful at covertly inserting troops into enemy territory, but they come with added dangers over normal parachute jumps. The parachutists travel most of the way down in freefall, opening their parachute at low altitude (hence the name). This is great for a fast insertion, but it leaves the operators with a smaller window to untangle parachute lines or open their reserve chute should things go wrong.

This is what happened over California.

All of the other troops involved in the jump landed safely at the planned drop zone.

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A spokesperson from the Ministry of Defence said “There has been a parachuting incident involving a British soldier training alongside American allies in California.

“The soldier received minor injuries and is recovering well.”

Jesse Beckett

Jesse Beckett is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE