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The Best Job for Adrenaline Junkies


Jump out of a plane, unsure if your parachute will work, and get paid for it? Parachute testers do it every day.

(Photo Credit: The National Guard/Flickr)

Bored with your job and starting to consider finding something more interesting to do? Risking your life for a living would definitely create more adrenaline in your system than many office jobs. Parachute testing is a real job, and real people do it.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Popular Mechanics introduces us to Rickster Powell, a 41-year-old who has 20,000 jumps out of an airplane under his belt. He claims that of the 50 chutes he’s tested, only nine reached production. This invites the question of what, exactly, was wrong with the other 41 parachutes Powell has tested, but we can at least assume that he survived the jumps.

Some of the problems Powell has experienced include unstable fights, but he tells Popular Mechanics about the time a fellow tester (yes, there is more than one!) deployed his chute too close to Powell. This resulted in Powell getting tangled in the other guy’s canopy, which led to some nasty nylon burns. All things being relative, this sounds preferable to other possible injuries. Powell is quoted as saying, “…the scars from the nylon burns remind me to be careful.” Being careful sounds like a good idea.

Professional Parachute Testing 

Performance Designs, in DeLand, Florida, is just one company that makes parachutes and pays people to test them. They are Powell’s employer.

When working for Performance Designs, Powell wears a head camera and a belly camera. He also wears an altimeter, which lets jumpers accurately gauge their altitude at deployment, and other sensors that record barometric pressure, harness strain, and other important details.

With 21 years on the job Powell’s employment may not be as dangerous as it seems at first blush. As a matter of fact, he wear three parachutes when testing for Performance Designs. One of the three is a “reserve.”

We still can’t help being curious what he pays for life insurance.

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