Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick

21 03 2010

Last year I picked up a great read at a local used bookstore: Women’s Firsts edited by Caroline Zilboorg and Susan B. Gall. This is a hardback, heavy resource full of all sorts of interesting things women have done throughout global history.

Every once in a while, I will post tidbits of info from this book so check back.

If you know of any women’s firsts – please comment!


Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick

Born in 1893, Broadwick was the first woman to free-fall parachute – she jumped out of a plane at 1000 feet over Los Angeles in 1913 and lived to tell the tale. She eventually made over 1100 jumps, saying:

“I was never afraid. I’d go up any time, any place. The only thing I hated was getting back to earth so quickly.”

In 1914, Broadwick was the first person to demonstrate parachuting to the U.S. Army. Wearing a parachute pack newly designed to fit on a person’s back, she performed several jumps for the military. Through the course of the demonstration, she modified the operation to reduce risk of injury (her line tangled on her 3rd or 4th jump, sources are conflicting). Parachuting jumps previously involved using a static line which ensured parachute deployment upon immediate departure from the aircraft – but being attached to a physical line heightened the risk of injury during the fall. For her fifth jump in front of the military, Broadwick cut the line (allowing her to open the parachute manually) and thus was the first person ever to do a premeditated free fall jump from an airplane!

Totally awesome.