Each RAF Parachute Jump Instructor (PJI) was in charge of a ‘stick’ of ten trainee parachutists at RAF Ringway. ‘Synthetic’ ground training was normally conducted in aircraft hangars using unconventional gymnastic-like apparatus to simulate the conditions a parachutist could expect to encounter from exiting the aircraft to flight and landing.
In one hangar there were mock-ups of the interior and jump-hole or door of all types of aircraft used for parachuting. The student was taught how to exit the aircraft.
In the other hangar were different types of ground equipment used to simulate landing. Trapeze swings simulated flight drills and students slid down chutes or jumped from platforms to practice parachute rolls on landing. The ‘Fan’, a platform apparatus 25-feet high, had a parachute harness connected to a ‘fan’ that used the body weight of the jumper to slow the rate of descent when he ‘jumped’ from the platform.
Certain devices such as the ‘Gallows’ and jumping from the backs of moving lorries to practice landings were discontinued due to excessive injury rates.
The parachute course lasted two to three weeks depending on weather. Up to two weeks ground training preceded the first two jumps made from a cage suspended beneath a tethered barrage balloon. Six to eight aircraft jumps followed, graduating from no equipment to full container load and one by night.
Up to August 1941 the training capacity of the Parachute Dropping Squadron was 40 parachutists per week. This rose to 100 the following month until by September 1,365 aircraft descents were achieved. By the end of 1941 up to 4,000 training descents were completed.