FORT BRAGG – Spc. Aaron Carlisle’s arms are a blur as he pulls, one by one, on the suspension lines of a parachute.
As he flips past, he quickly folds the canopy of the parachute, but he’s also scanning it for tears.
Carlisle is one of the fastest packers in the 647th Quartermaster Company’s rigger pack shed, located on the aptly named Canopy Lane.
The 21-year-old from Washington state can finish his daily allotment of 25 parachutes before lunch. But the speed with which Carlisle can pack a parachute is tempered by an eye on detail.
He knows that one day, the parachute he packs will be strapped to another soldier’s back. At least once a year, Carlisle himself may be the one hanging under the canopy.
Carlisle jumped using the new T-11 model parachute, which was recently reintroduced to Fort Bragg’s conventional paratroopers. Days later, he was one of eight riggers manning 50-foot-long tables, packing another model of parachute known as the MC1-1.
Riggers on Fort Bragg pack an average of 5,000 to 6,000 parachutes a month, according to officials.
At the pack shed on Canopy Lane, riggers can cycle through 3,500 in the same time period.
Carlisle works with a scowl on his face and focus in his eyes.
He works fast, forcing air out from the canopy with thrusts of his elbows before folding it, accordion-style, into a deployment bag.
“I don’t smile,” he jokes with a photographer. “I’m serious.”
Even stopping to talk, Carlisle finishes packing the parachute in less than 20 minutes — a testament to the technique he’s polished since arriving at Fort Bragg in July 2009.
Around him, other riggers work at various speeds.
Riggers with the 647th mostly pack T-10 model parachutes, but also handle the MC1-1, cargo parachutes and reserve parachutes.
At any given time, more than 4,000 parachutes of various types are in the shed, either waiting to be packed or waiting to be sent to the flight line.
Those parachutes will be inspected at least six times before a parachute ever leaves the plane, officials said. And each packer and inspector attach his name to a record within the parachute’s risers to add accountability.
“Twenty-five, 25, that’s all that’s going through my mind,” said Carlisle.
But the focus on his goal doesn’t overshadow the attention to detail, something that’s emphasized in the “Rigger’s Pledge” posted throughout the shed.
It’s a pledge that ends with the sentence “I will be sure — always.”