Record-Setting Smokejumper Retires

Longanecker made most jumps ever

Oct 3, 2011
Outside Magazine

Dale Longanecker parachuted out of a plane as a smokejumper for the final time on Friday, 38 year and 896 jumps after he entered the United States Forest Service in 1973. Longanecker, who turned 57 last month and hit the service's mandatory retirement age, racked up more jumps than any other firefighter in U.S. history. He made 362 of his jumps, including one on August 10, into active fires. “It was the opportunity to be on small fires in remote locations,” Longanecker told the Tri-City Herald. “It was just a great way to see the country.” Longanecker grew up next door to one of the country's first smokejumpers and decided on his career at age eight. He has become an expert on parachute design and hopes to sell a new model to the Forest Service in retirement.

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