Complete Parachute Solutions, a highly successful, military-focused outgrowth of DeLand’s world-famous sport parachuting industry, has turned 20 years old.
CPS is actually a consortium of three companies, each operating independently but sharing in the success generated by CPS, CEO Fred Williams told The Beacon.
It started when the companies — Performance Designs, Sun Path Products and United Parachute Technologies — worked together to fulfill a military contract with Canada.
The companies were sport-focused, and Canada said the equipment sought needed to have a more military approach. Williams, a military veteran who worked at or with all three companies, knew he could tap their expertise to innovate and manufacture high-quality, tactical parachute solutions for the U.S. military and its allies.
“We were able to bring three ’chute makers together and bring them to a military deal,” Williams said.
CPS was formed from that successful contract.
Whether for sport or the military, a parachute system consists of three main parts — a backpack, a main ’chute and a backup ’chute, or reserve.
Military parachuting involves ’chutes able to support troops in full battle gear, often with auxiliary oxygen for high-altitude jumps. Some gear even allows troops to “buddy jump” with a military K-9 strapped to them.
The troops often employ HALO — high altitude, low opening — tactics, jumping from planes above normal operating heights and opening their ’chutes close to the ground, thus limiting their exposure to potential enemy fire.
That led to another early milestone for CPS, which implemented a free-fall training program for the U.S. Marines, Williams said.
“The Marines had a unique requirement, and what was available on the market was not appropriate, so we built what they wanted and needed,” Williams said. “We built systems and training, and were the first to do so at the request of the Marines.”
The result was a five-year contract to train 24 men at a time for 10 four-week training sessions a year. That contract was renewed to provide training for 48 troops at a time for nine four-week sessions. That contract is nearing completion, Williams said.
But there have been many other contracts CPS has filled over the years. And the customers are not just the military — CPS parachutes have also been used for search-and-rescue missions and for fighting wildfires.
And all of its equipment is thoroughly tested. CPS even has gone to Mount Everest to perfect its gear.
CPS also has been honored with two awards based on its safety record, one from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the other from the secretary of the Navy.
And it is the military that is closest to Fred Williams’ heart.
“We contribute to the safety and security of the world,” he said proudly.