Six Lessons from Smokejumpers
In the summers of 2016 and 2017, when wildfires were scorching thousands of acres of forest across North America, Mark Jenkins was sent by National Geographic Magazine to cover the most elite wildland fire fighters on earth: smokejumpers. His story is a feature in the upcoming May 2019 issue of National Geographic Magazine.
Smokejumpers are the paratroopers of the war on fire---they jump from planes directly into the battle. Loaded with over a hundred pounds of equipment, they steer their parachutes directly down into the flames. These men (and women) are the definition of tough. They have more grit than soldiers, more skills than skydivers, more courage than cops. They train harder than Army Rangers, know more than Forest Service Rangers, and put their lives on the line every time they jump from a plane.
Deeply committed to the story of the smokejumper’s life, Mark Jenkins spent months getting certified as a wildlands fire fighter in order to be on the frontlines with smokejumpers. He was side-by-side with them fighting fires on the North Slope of Alaska. He fought fires with them through the night, onto into the day, then into the night, for weeks. He slept in the dirt with them, ate pork and beans from tins with them, interviewed them for hours around the campfire.
In this utterly original 50-minute presentation, Jenkins reveals the lives of smokejumpers---the mortal risks, the unbreakable comradery, the forthright fearlessness. Smokejumpers live their entire lives on the edge of death, playing chess with the merciless forces of nature. Their wisdom is what Jenkins went looking for, found, and brings back to audiences in Six Lessons from Smokejumpers.