25 November 1956 – U. S. Air Force Sergeant Richard Patton of the 1710th Aerial Port Squadron makes the first successful parachute jump in Antarctica. He jumps from 1,500 feet as a test to determine the cause of parachute malfunction in sub-zero weather conditions.
The first Antarctic free-fall jump was by VX-6 pararescue team member AE2 Jim Thomann on 23 December 1966…from 6,000 feet above ground level.
High-altitude military parachuting (or military free fall (MFF)) is a method of delivering military personnel, military equipment, and other military supplies from a transport aircraft at a high altitude via free-fall parachute insertion. Two techniques are used: HALO (high altitude – low opening, often called a HALO jump) and HAHO (high altitude – high opening).
In the HALO technique, the parachutist opens the parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time, while in the HAHO technique, the parachutist opens the parachute at a high altitude just a few seconds after jumping from the aircraft.
In military operations, HALO is also used for delivering equipment, supplies, or personnel, while HAHO is generally used exclusively for personnel. In typical HALO/HAHO insertions the troops jump from altitudes between 15,000 feet (4,600 m) and 35,000 feet (11,000 m).
All types of parachuting techniques are dangerous, but HALO/HAHO carries special risks. At high altitudes (greater than 22,000 feet, or 6,700 m), the partial pressure of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere is low. Oxygen is required for human respiration and lack of pressure can lead to hypoxia. Also, the rapid ascent in the jump aircraft without all nitrogen flushed from the bloodstream can lead to decompression sickness, also known as caisson disease or “the bends”.
Although HALO techniques were first developed in the 1960s for military uses, in recent years HALO parachute designs have been more widely used in non-military applications, including as a form of skydiving.