– Abseil from a helicopter into a simulated warzone to locate a downed, injured pilot and extract him to safety
– Wade chest deep through 5°C water, run up a steep incline, then commando crawl over and under a series of logs and muddy obstacles looping back to the river before running the 500m combat course all over again… and again… and again, until someone handed their number in
Exhausted, bruised and battered, recruits set out on the final 48hrs of the condensed SAS selection course with the DS analysing their every move in fine detail.
A solo Nick Cummins was the only person to succeed in the downed pilot rescue, while the rest of the paired recruits struggled.
The DS brought a rattled James Magnussen in for questioning after observing he was “empty” and “wavering”. James revealed he made a decision as a 20-year-old under fire to not let emotions get the better of him again and that he doesn’t let anyone in, saying he was now “flatlining” in life.
The relentless combat course was brutal – Shannan Ponton faltered in the bitter cold; Sabrina Frederick’s back pain had her on the brink of collapse; while a fatigued Erin McNaught got lapped repeatedly by the other recruits.
To prove a point that individual weakness can cost lives, the DS ramped up the pressure on Erin to catch up or quit the course by punishing the rest of the group. She refused to give up, even with Chief Instructor Ant Middleton yelling in her face calling her a liability.
Eventually, a broken Erin, in tears and in pain, handed in her number with Ant commending her on her sacrifice for the group.
Shannan spent a sleepless night mulling over his inability to work in the cold again and ultimately decided to VW to avoid becoming a burden to the others.
And then there were five – James Magnussen, Merrick Watts, Molly Taylor, Nick Cummins and Sabrina Frederick.