Adeline Gray, married names Johnson and Graf, (1915/16 – September 27, 1975) was an American parachutist. She is thought to have been the only female parachutist in the United States before the 1940s. Gray received her parachuting license at the age of 19 and afterwards appeared as part of a stunt parachuting team in barnstorming shows. She was also a licensed pilot by 21. Gray later worked as a parachute rigger and tester for DuPont and on June 6, 1942, became the first person to jump with a nylon parachute. Gray became moderately famous for this and appeared in advertisements for Camel cigarettes.
Adeline Gray was born in 1915 or 1916 and grew up in Oxford, Connecticut.She developed an interest in parachuting as a child and jumped from her hayloft using an umbrella, though she later noted "I ruined many umbrellas". Gray began making parachute jumps in 1935, at the age of 19, and became the first licensed female parachutist in Connecticut. In the inter-war years she appeared in barnstorming shows as part of a stunt parachuting team and, from 1938, operated a parachute training school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is thought to have been the only female parachutist in the country until the early 1940s. Gray also became a licensed aircraft pilot at the age of 21.
Parachutes were traditionally made from silk but World War II led to a shortage of this material as most was imported from Japan.The DuPont company were manufacturers of nylon and sought to use this man-made material to produce parachutes. DuPont teamed up with the Pioneer Parachute Company and Cheney Brothers silkmakers to develop a nylon parachute. Gray was employed by DuPont as a parachute rigger and tester with responsibility for checking parachutes for flaws before folding them into their packs. She volunteered to test the first nylon parachute, which DuPont agreed to.
On June 6, 1942, she became the first person to jump wearing a nylon parachute, doing so from 2,500 feet (760 m) at Brainard Field, Connecticut. Media reports from the time remarked on Gray's calm demeanor before the test, which was her 33rd parachute jump. The jump was broadcast live on Hartford radio station WTIC.
The test was witnessed by 50 senior military officials and led to the widescale use of nylon for parachutes.Some 90% of DuPont's nylon production had originally been used to manufacture stockings but, after the test, almost all of it was dedicated to military purposes, principally parachutes and reinforcement for tires. The Pioneer Parachute Company became the world's largest manufacturer of nylon parachutes, at one stage of the war employing 3,000 people and producing 300 parachutes a day.
The test brought Gray national attention and she entered into an advertising contract with the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for Camel cigarettes. She appeared often in print advertisements, including one wearing a ballgown.Gray continued to work at Pioneer and married inventor Kenneth Johnson. In 1947 her husband allocated her 50% ownership of a patent for an electrically triggered explosive parachute release mechanism. Gray later married again, to August Graf. She had a son, Glenn Johnson, and two daughters, Keni Cummings and Joyce Harrington. Gray died in Naugatuck, Connecticut on September 27, 1975, at the age of 59. Her death followed a brief period of illness.
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers composed of polyamides. Nylon is a thermoplastic silky material, generally made from petroleum, that can be melt-processed into fibers, films, or shapes. Nylon polymers can be mixed with a wide variety of additives to achieve many different property variations. Nylon polymers have found significant commercial applications in fabric and fibers, in shapes, and in films.
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong fabric, originally silk, now most commonly nylon. They are typically dome-shaped, but vary, with rectangles, inverted domes, and others found. A variety of loads are attached to parachutes, including people, food, equipment, space capsules, and bombs.
High-altitude military parachuting is a method of delivering military personnel, military equipment, and other military supplies from a transport aircraft at a high altitude via free-fall parachute insertion. Two techniques are used: HALO and HAHO.
Stephanie Louise Kwolek was an American chemist who is known for inventing Kevlar. Her career at the DuPont company spanned more than 40 years. She discovered the first of a family of synthetic fibers of exceptional strength and stiffness: poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide.
A parachutist badge is a military badge awarded by the armed forces of many states to soldiers who receive the proper parachute training and accomplish the required number of jumps. It is difficult to assess which country was the first to introduce such an award.
The Parachutist Badge, also commonly referred to as "Jump Wings" is a military badge of the United States Armed Forces. The United States Space Force and United States Coast Guard are the only branches that do not award the Parachutist Badge, but their members are authorized to receive the Parachutist Badges of other services in accordance with their prescribed requirements. The DoD military services are all awarded the same Basic Parachutist Badge. The U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force issue the same Senior and Master Parachutist Badges while the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps issue the Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Badge to advanced parachutists. The majority of the services earn their Basic Parachutist Badge through the U.S. Army Airborne School.
The nylon riots were a series of disturbances at American stores created by a nylon stocking shortage.
André-Jacques Garnerin was a French balloonist and the inventor of the frameless parachute. He was appointed Official Aeronaut of France.
The United States Army Airborne School – widely known as Jump School – conducts the basic paratrooper training for the United States armed forces. It is operated by the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 507th Infantry, United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia. The Airborne School conducts the Basic Airborne Course, which is open to troops of both genders from all branches of the United States Department of Defense, Reserve Officer Training Corps, and allied military personnel. All students must volunteer to attend the course.
A parachute rigger is a person who is trained or licensed to pack, maintain or repair parachutes. A rigger is required to understand fabrics, hardware, webbing, regulations, sewing, packing, and other aspects related to the building, packing, repair, and maintenance of parachutes.
Georgia Ann "Tiny" Thompson Broadwick, or Georgia Broadwick, previously known as Georgia Jacobs, and later known as Georgia Brown, was an American pioneering parachutist and the inventor of the ripcord. She was the first woman to jump from an airplane, and the first person to jump from a seaplane.
Jean Ethel Burns was an Australian aviatrix. She was the first Australian woman to parachute from an aeroplane over Australia and held the title of being the youngest female pilot in Australia for 15 years.
Hilder Florentina Youngberg Smith was an aerial acrobat, parachutist, and pioneer aviator. She was one of California's first female pilots and the first woman to fly an airplane from LAX. Hilder was a member of a flying aerial team called The Flying Sylvesters.
James Floyd Smith was an inventor, aviation pioneer, and parachute manufacturer. With borrowed money, he built, then taught himself to fly his own airplane. He worked as a flight instructor and test pilot for Glenn L. Martin at Bennett's bean field, which became LAX. From San Diego in 1916, Smith won the Aero Club of America's Medal of Merit by setting three altitude records, flying a Martin S seaplane reaching that aircraft's ceiling of 12,333 feet. During World War I, he formed the Floyd Smith Aerial Equipment Company in San Diego, California. In May 1920, he won a patent for the first back pack, free fall type, ripcord operated parachute. Smith's original ripcord parachute is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Dayton, Ohio.
Cavalcade of America is an anthology drama series that was sponsored by the DuPont Company, although it occasionally presented musicals, such as an adaptation of Show Boat, and condensed biographies of popular composers. It was initially broadcast on radio from 1935 to 1953, and later on television from 1952 to 1957. Originally on CBS, the series pioneered the use of anthology drama for company audio advertising.
Parachuting, including also skydiving, is a method of transiting from a high point in the atmosphere to the surface of Earth with the aid of gravity, involving the control of speed during the descent using a parachute or parachutes.
Phoebe Jane Fairgrave Omlie was an American aviation pioneer, particularly noted for her accomplishments as an early female aviator. Omlie was the first woman to receive an airplane mechanic's license, the first licensed female transport pilot, and the first woman to be appointed to a federal position in the aviation field.
CharlesBroadwick was an American pioneering parachutist and inventor. Speaking about Broadwick, an executive director of the U.S. Parachute Association, Ed Scott, said "just about all modern parachute systems" use ideas Broadwick developed: "an integrated, form-fitting harness and container system nestled on the back." Broadwick also developed the static line, a line from a parachute to an aircraft that pulls the parachute from its pouch. Static lines are still used today, for instance by paratroopers and novice skydivers. U.S. Army Warrant Officer Jeremiah Jones commented, "[Broadwick] is like the grandfather of paratroopers." In addition, Broadwick demonstrated parachute jumps at fairs and taught and equipped famous female parachutist Tiny Broadwick.
Aircrew survival equipmentmen are survival equipment specialists and certified parachute riggers who oversee valuable life saving equipment, parachutes, and other special gear used by U.S. Naval and Marine Corps special operations forces, Naval Air Department, and the United States Navy Parachute Team known as the "Leap Frogs". They perform a wide range of duties, which include inspecting, maintaining, and repairing parachutes, search and rescue equipment, along with survival kits, medical kits, flight clothing, protective wear, night vision equipment, aircrew oxygen systems, liquid oxygen converters, anti-exposure suits, and g-suits. PRs operate and maintain carbon dioxide transfer and recharge equipment, operate and repair sewing machines as well as train aircrew and other personnel in parachute rigging and the use of safety and survival equipment.
Odette Rousseau was a French parachutist. She qualified at the age of 23 and became French national champion in 1953 and a world champion in 1954. Rousseau made a world record jump on 25 August 1955 from a height of 8,721 metres. She later attended many Fédération Aéronautique Internationale committees and was appointed an officer of the Legion of Honour.