Airman 1st Class Carlos Puga: An aerial porter has many roles, actually. Pretty much any function that you can find in an airport, we just about do. Other things that we do here specifically is rigging parachutes and preparing them for air drops.
After we collect parachutes from the drop zone, we do a process called "shagging." Essentially, we hook up the base of the parachute. We're going to start lowering one side, the tail end of these, which are called suspension lines. We're going to start lowering this and untangling the lines, and the way we do that is kind of a spaghetti effect, just like this. Very simple.
As we get to the actual canvas, or the panels, we start to shake those out as well. So we would bring the panels about to a height here and start to shake out any dust or any dirt that could be found in there. We have hard hats and helmets and goggles to make sure that we're safe. After that, we pull them out, and we lay them, stretch them across this table. The first process is untangling the lines because you want to make sure that there's a smooth airflow. After we untangle the lines, we start the folding process. We fold 13 grooves, depending on the parachute. This is a 26-footer, so it has 26 lines. So we'd fold 13 on one side, 13 on the other. Then we do what we call a "burrito fold." Fold it into each other and then stuff it in one of these bags.
Most of the training that I have as far as for packing the parachutes has been in-house, in residence with the instructors, or the sergeants who have gone to rigger school. They pretty much oversee the work. They guide me through it hands-on. We also have a manual that tells us step-by-step exactly how to do it.
Teamwork is a huge part of everything that we do here in the Air Guard. A lot of the jobs you need at least two people, and the Air Force also enforces the concept of having a wingman. I think it's a great balance to help each other.