To celebrate 72nd anniversary of the first paratroop jump in the Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire), 114 soldiers belonging to the Military School of Parachuting (Escuela Militar de Paracaidismo or EMP) ‘Méndez Parada,’ located in Alcantarilla air base (Murcia), have carried out a massive jump from the ramp of an A-400M aircraft operated by Wing 31. Military skydiving in Spain has its pioneer in the figure of Captain Méndez Parada, who gave his name to the EMP and who, during the 1920s, carried out the first parachuting courses in Spain. He died heroically in a plane crash near Getafe when, about to crash the biplane he was flying, he gave a soldier flying with him his own parachute so he could save his life.
In his honor and for 72 years, the school in which all paratroopers of the Armed Forces and State Security Forces and agencies are trained, bears his name. Since its foundation, almost one and a half million skydive jumps have been made. The EMP has facilities for teaching skydiving, which are among the most advanced in the world. It has a launch tower and a descent simulator for automatic opening, inaugurated in 2005, which have allowed to increase the safety of jumpers and decrease the number of casualties to obtain the ability of a paratrooper. And for the teaching of skydiving in the manual opening mode, two simulators were put into operation in early 2007.
The Airbus A400M Atlas is a European, four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Defence and Space as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. The A400M combines the capability to carry strategic loads with the ability to deliver even into tactical locations with small and unprepared airstrips and can act as a frontline-tanker. The A400M is positioned, in terms of size, between the C-130 and the C-17; it can carry heavier loads than the C-130 and is able to use rough landing strips.