Service Blueprinting

Project Name

US Army Airborne School Service Blueprint

Mar 2019


Type of Project:
Service Blueprinting

None… just made a blueprint for a thought experiment

This wasn’t a formal project with the US Army, I simply service blueprinted my experience as a student at the US Army Airborne School


After a UX conference attendee asked about service design as it relates to federal agencies, I realized there was a severe lack in open-source (and visual) service examples from governmental agencies. However, I didn’t want to leave the attendee empty-handed after a great question.

Half-jokingly, I began sketching a service blueprint of a typical “jump” at Airborne School to better explain how angry and stressed bathrooms breaks made our Airborne School Instructor (Sergeant Airborne). This sketch has evolved over time and several iterations, and I finally digitized it in 2019.

Why does the Sergeant Airborne stress out so much about trainees’ bathroom breaks? Every bathroom break increases the risk of accidental death.

Every time a jumper prepares for their jumps, they don equipment about which they have little to zero knowledge. To avoid risk, the Sergeant Airborne and Parachute Packers put the harness on the trainees themselves, tightening everything and checking all clasps and straps personally. If they use the restroom before donning the harness, no harm, no foul.

However, when a trainee uses the restroom after wearing their harness, this means they loosen the harness, often forgetting to put it back on tightly enough. If no one checks the harness, a trainee’s life is at risk if their harness fails to halt their descent to the ground.

This means every single bathroom break requires an additional equipment check, which adds an additional 15-30 minutes to prep time, for each round of bathroom breaks. This can cause flight delays, can make or break mission goals, given very specific weather requirements for jumping out of an aircraft in the first place.

TL;DR: What is a 5 minute bathroom break for the jumper has potential to become a mission critical flight delay for an instructor.