The First Woman To Parachute From An Airplane

North Carolina was the site of the first powered airplane flight in 1903, and only 10 years later a native North Carolinian became the first woman to make a parachute jump from a plane. Her birth name was Georgia Ann Thompson, the youngest of 7 daughters. Her family nicknamed her “Tiny” because she only weighed 3 pounds at birth. As an adult she stood just a few inches over 4 feet tall and weighed a mere 80 pounds. When she was just 15, Tiny made her first jump when she parachuted from a hot air balloon at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. It wasn’t long before she was teaching the craft of parachuting, and her performances drew large crowds. Tiny married Charles Broadwick when she was just 19, and they traveled all over the country with their balloon act. In 1913, she made her first parachute jump from an airplane, demonstrating it for representatives of the Army Air Corps in San Diego. Tiny made four jumps at San Diego’s North Island. The first three went smoothly, but on the fourth jump, her parachute’s line became tangled in the tail assembly of the plane. Due to high winds, she couldn't get back into the plane. Instead of panicking, Tiny cut all but a short length of the line, which made her plummet towards the ground. Still keeping a cool head, she pulled the line by hand, freeing the parachute to open by itself. This demonstrated what would be known as the rip cord, and showcased that someone who had to leave an airplane in flight didn't need a line attached to the aircraft to open a parachute. A pilot could safely bail out of a damaged craft. Following this, the parachute became known as the life preserver of the air. At the age of 85, Tiny Broadwick died and was buried in her home state of North Carolina.