|Gladys Roy & Ivan Unger, c. 1927, photographer unidentified|
I remember years ago hearing about the first woman to jump from an airplane, and it turns out she had a whole lot of history before that happened. Tiny Broadwick made the first freefall jump by anyone, ever. She had been making static-line jumps from balloons for years. The story is here, from that link to Parachute History:
In 1914 Broadwick gave the first demonstration of a parachute jump to the US government. The first four jumps were static line jumps. On the fourth jump the static line tangled with the aircraft so on the fifth jump she decided to not use the static line. She cut the static line so that it was long enough for her to pull the parachute pack open after she was clear of the airplane. This was the first premeditated FREEFALL jump by anyone.Tiny was called that because she was just a little over 4 feet tall and weighed 85 pounds. At the age of fifteen, she started jumping from balloons hanging on what looked like a swing. She was not wearing any type of harness, just sitting there during the ascent. Originally from North Carolina, she settled in Southern California later in life, and her history was totally unknown until a skydiver (Dave Burt) tracked her down and started taking her around to local drop zones and adventure clubs. Smart Guy met her several times, and he said it was truly amazing to see these big burly skydivers standing around listening to this little old lady tell stories of derring-do that made their jaws drop. Her parachutes have been donated to the Smithsonian, and in 2003 the North Carolina Historical Society dedicated a marker to her memory.
Maybe when I retire from skydiving altogether I can take up tennis.