December 19, 1977 12:00 PM

Inexorably, time is running out on the white minority government of Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith. Even now, after Smith has expressed a willingness to negotiate a shift to black majority rule, Rhodesian commandos continue to wage a bloody brushfire war against guerrillas operating out of neighboring Mozambique. That’s where Tony Hughes comes in. A 34-year-old reservist in the Rhodesian air force, Hughes spends six months a year training paratroopers for antiguerrilla raids. An insurance agent in civilian life, he jumped 239 times before a calcium deficiency that makes him susceptible to broken bones ended his parachuting in 1973. Now the closest he gets to hitting the silk is the open bay of a DC-3 training plane (at right), where he watches his troopers float to earth. “It’s like sticking your head out a car window at 100 miles an hour,” Hughes says of the battering from the wind, “but I’d rather be doing this than sitting at a desk.”

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