Tiny Broadwick

Last updated
Broadwick ready to drop from a Martin T airplane piloted by Glenn Martin. Tiny Broadwick.jpg
Broadwick ready to drop from a Martin T airplane piloted by Glenn Martin.

Georgia Ann "Tiny" Thompson Broadwick (April 8, 1893 in Oxford, North Carolina – August 25, 1978 in Long Beach, California), 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. [1] She was the first woman to jump from an airplane, and the first person to jump from a seaplane. [2]



Born to parents George and Emma Ross on April 8, 1893, Georgia Ann Thompson weighed only 3 pounds.[ citation needed ] The last of seven daughters, Georgia was given the nickname "Tiny" due to her small size, [3] as she weighed only 85 pounds (39 kg) and was 4 feet 8 inches (1.42 m) tall. [4] At age 12, Tiny Broadwick had married and, at 13, had a daughter, Verla Jacobs (later, Poythress) (1906–1985). [5] Tiny Broadwick was an abandoned mother working in a cotton mill, aged 15, when she saw Charles Broadwick's World Famous Aeronauts parachute from a hot air balloon and decided to join the travelling troupe, leaving her daughter in the care of her parents. She later became Broadwick's adopted daughter, to ease travel arrangements, though she has also been referenced as his wife (with her own family later unclear on the relationship). Although she would eventually make her jumps from airplanes, in her early career she jumped from balloons. [6]

Billed as "the doll girl," Tiny Broadwick began performing aerial skydives and stunts while wearing a "life preserver," or parachute, designed by her adopted father, making her first jump out of a hot air balloon on December 28, 1908. [7] The skydiving family traveled around and performed at fairs, carnivals, and parks. The appeal of the Broadwick flying troupe, according to Tiny Broadwick, was that "it was a very neat and fast act." [8]

"Tiny" with chute N 61 24 Tiny Broadwick open chute (9015301361).jpg
"Tiny" with chute

Among her many other achievements, she was the first woman to parachute from an airplane, which she is sometimes credited with accomplishing over Los Angeles on June 21, 1913, with aviator Glenn L. Martin as the pilot. [9] However, she previously made at least two jumps from Martin's plane during an exhibition in Chicago's Grant Park the week of September 16, 1912. [10] These early jumps included a well-publicized jump on January 9, 1914, from a plane built and piloted by Martin, 1,000 feet over Griffith Park in Los Angeles. [11] [12] [13]

In 1914, she demonstrated parachutes to the U.S. Army, which at the time had a small, hazardous fleet of aircraft. The Army, reluctant at first to adopt the parachute, watched as Tiny Broadwick dropped from the sky. On her fourth demonstration jump, the static line became entangled in the tail assembly of the aircraft, so for her next jump she cut the static line short and did not attach it to the plane. Instead, she deployed her chute manually by pulling the shortened, unattached line while in free-fall in what may have been the first planned free-fall jump from an airplane. This demonstrated that pilots could safely escape aircraft by using what was later called a ripcord. [14]

Also in 1914, Broadwick jumped into Lake Michigan, becoming the first woman to parachute into a body of water. [14]

In 1912, Tiny Broadwick married Andrew Olsen, divorced, then, in 1916, married Harry Brown, and stopped parachuting for four years. That marriage also ended in divorce; she retained the name Georgia Brown thereafter. She also severed relations with Charles Broadwick, and considered Broadwick to be her stage name. She returned to jumping again in 1920 for two more years, retiring from jumping in 1922 [5] due to problems with her ankles. [14] She was then said to have made over 1,100 jumps. Although she was not a pilot, she was one of the few female members of the Early Birds of Aviation.

Tiny Broadwick appeared on You Bet Your Life episode 55–07 on November 10, 1955, [15] on To Tell the Truth on March 30, 1964 and on Mysteries at the Museum season 11, episode 33.

In 1964, Tiny Broadwick donated a parachute, handmade by Charles Broadwick of 110 yards of silk, to the Smithsonian Air Museum, the precursor to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. [14]

Broadwick died in 1978 and was buried in Sunset Gardens in Henderson, North Carolina.


In February 2006, Vance County, North Carolina, commissioners decided to name a portion of the Henderson Outer Loop highway after her. Additionally, Broadwick Street in Rancho Dominguez, California, is named for her.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parachute</span> Device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere

A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag or, in a ram-air parachute, aerodynamic lift. A major application is to support people, for recreation or as a safety device for aviators, who can exit from an aircraft at height and descend safely to earth.

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1913:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Scott Baldwin</span> US Army aviator and balloonist (1854–1923)

Thomas Scott Baldwin was a pioneer balloonist and U.S. Army major during World War I. He was the first American to descend from a balloon by parachute.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leslie L. Irvin</span> American parachutist

Leslie Leroy Irvin was a stunt-man for the fledgling Californian film industry. Flying in balloons, he performed using trapeze acrobatics and parachute descents. For the 1914 film Sky High, Irvin made his first jump out of an airplane while flying at 1,000 feet above the ground. In 1918, he developed his own life-saving static line parachute, jumping with it several times and promoting it to the US Army. Irvin joined the Army Air Service's parachute research team at McCook Field near Dayton, Ohio where he made the first premeditated free-fall jump with the modern parachute on April 28, 1919.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hilder Florentina Smith</span> American Test PilotParachute Manufacturer

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Floyd Smith</span> American Test PilotParachute Manufacturer

James Floyd Smith was an inventor, aviation pioneer, and parachute manufacturer. With borrowed money, he built, then taught himself to fly his own airplane.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lillian Boyer</span>

Lillian Boyer was an American wing walker who performed numerous aerial stunts that included wing walking, automobile-to-airplane transfers, and parachute jumps between 1921 and 1929.

Edith Maud Cook, was an early British parachutist, balloonist, and aviator, recognized as Britain's first female pilot. She was also known as Viola Spencer-Kavanagh, Viola Spencer, Viola Kavanagh, and perhaps as Viola Fleet and Elsa Spencer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parachuting</span> Action sport of exiting an aircraft and returning to Earth using a parachute

Parachuting and skydiving is a method of transiting from a high point in an atmosphere to the ground or ocean surface with the aid of gravity, involving the control of speed during the descent using a parachute or parachutes.

A ripcord is a part of a skydiving harness-container system; a handle attached to a steel cable ending in a closing pin. The pin keeps the container closed and keeps the spring-loaded pilot chute inside. When the ripcord is pulled, the container is opened and the pilot chute is released, opening the parachute. On tandem systems the ripcord releases the 3-ring release system anchoring the bridle to the harness-container, allowing the parachute to open.

CharlesBroadwick was an American pioneering parachutist and inventor. 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 developed the static line, a line from a parachute to an aircraft that pulls the parachute from its pouch. Static lines are still used by paratroopers and novice skydivers. U.S. Army Warrant Officer Jeremiah Jones commented, "[Broadwick] is like the grandfather of paratroopers." Broadwick demonstrated parachute jumps at fairs and taught and equipped famous female parachutist Tiny Broadwick.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rachel Thomas (skydiver)</span> Indian skydiver

LIMITLESS - An Autobiography published by Rachel Thomas in January 2023

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zuleykha Seyidmammadova</span>

Zuleykha Seyidmammadova was one of the first Azerbaijani female pilots, and the first Azerbaijani woman to fly in combat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mary Riddle</span> Native American pilot

Mary Riddle, also known as Kus-de-cha or Kingfisher, was the first Native American woman to earn a pilot's license Soon after earning her pilot's license she also earned her commercial license.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of women in aviation</span>

This is a timeline of women in aviation which describes many of the firsts and achievements of women as pilots and other roles in aviation. Women who are part of this list have piloted vehicles, including hot-air balloons, gliders, airplanes, dirigibles and helicopters. Some women have been instrumental in support roles. Others have made a name for themselves as parachutists and other forms of flight-related activities. This list encompasses women's achievements from around the globe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ada Rogato</span> Brazilian pilot

Ada Rogato was a pioneering woman aviator from Brazil. She broke five records, becoming the first South American woman to earn a glider pilot's license and the first Brazilian woman to earn paratrooper certification. She broke the world record for the longest solo flight, was the first to fly across all three of the Americas and held the Brazilian record for the number of parachute jumps. She was also Brazil's first woman agricultural pilot, flying crop dusters for the Biological Institute to eliminate pests which were destroying the country's coffee crop.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Myrtle Cagle</span> American pilot and astronaut (1925–2019)

Myrtle "Kay" Thompson Cagle was an American pilot and one of the Mercury 13 female astronauts group. She worked as a flight instructor and wrote about aviation in North Carolina.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Katharina Paulus</span>

Katharina "Käthe" Paulus was a German exhibition parachute jumper and the inventor of the first collapsible parachute. At the time, 1910, the parachute was named "rescue apparatus for aeronauts". The previous parachutes were not able to fit in a case like apparatus worn on the back, thus Paulus' invention became of paramount importance for the Germans in the First World War and she produced about 7,000 parachutes for the German forces. During the First World War, Paulus created approximately 125 parachutes a week. She was also credited with inventing the "drag 'chute", an intentional breakaway system where one small parachute opens to pull out the main parachute.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edward L. Hoffman</span> American aviation pioneer (1884–1970)

Edward Lincoln Hoffman (1884–1970) was a United States Army Air Service (USAAS) pilot, officer and Engineering Division Chief at McCook Field. With no parachute experience, he formed a team that included aviation pioneers Leslie Irvin and James Floyd Smith which developed the first modern parachute. The 1926 Collier Trophy was awarded to Major E. L. Hoffman, Air Corps for "development of a practical parachute;" the year's greatest achievement in American aviation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gladys Ingle</span> American pilot wing walker (1899–1981)

Gladys Ingle was an American pilot, a wing walker and a member of the aerial stunt team the 13 Black Cats.


  1. "Broadwick, Tiny - NCpedia". www.ncpedia.org. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  2. Ritter, Lisa (May 2010). "Pack Man". Air & Space Magazine. p. 2. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  3. Roberson, Elizabeth. Tiny Broadwick: The First Lady of Parachuting. Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company Inc, 2001. p 13
  4. "That Daring Young Girl In Parachute Now 80". The Blade . Toledo, OH. June 18, 1973. p. 14. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  5. 1 2 "The Tiny Broadwick Story". tinybroadwick.com. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  6. Ritter, Lisa (April–May 2010). "Pack Man: Charles Broadwick Invented a New Way of Falling". Air & Space. 25 (1): 68–72. Retrieved March 1, 2013. Broadwick's wife, Maude, had died on November 2, 1905, performing a jump from a balloon. "Woman Falls to Death". The Dispatch. Lexington, NC. November 8, 1905. p. 3. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  7. Call, Helen. "Woman - A San Diegan- Was First To Test Parachute For Government." North Island Demonstration, October 29, 1971: D-1, continued on D-4.
  8. Tiny Broadwick (Mrs. Georgia Brown) Interview by Kenneth Leish. Transcribed Oral History Interview. May 1960. Made available by Smithsonian National Air and Space Library and Archives Division
  9. Elizabeth Whitley Roberson, Tiny Broadwick: The First Lady of Parachuting (Pelican Publishing, 2001) p48; Thomas C. Parramore, First to Fly: North Carolina & the Beginnings of Aviation (University of North Carolina Press, 2003) p181
  10. Gray, Carroll. "Cicero Flying Field". LincolnBeachey.com. Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  11. "Steps From Plane In Air; Woman Leaps From Martin Craft With Aerial Life Preserver". Warsaw Daily Union . Warsaw, IN. January 10, 1914. p. 5. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  12. Harnisch, Larry (July 28, 2007). "Rewriting history". The Daily Mirror. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Times . Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  13. Welch, Rosanne (1998). Encyclopedia of Women in Aviation and Space . p.  27. ISBN   9780874369588.
  14. 1 2 3 4 "Georgia "Tiny" Broadwick's Parachute". National Air and Space Museum. 2015-03-12. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  15. Available on Groucho Marx: You Bet Your Life: The Best Episodes - Disc 2.

Further reading