History Hour: First parachute jump
On the 1st of March 1912, at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri (USA), Captain Albert Berry, United States Army, made the first parachute jump from an airplane.
Pilot Antony H. Jannus and Captain Berry took off from Kinloch Field, a balloon-launching field in Kinloch Park, (now, Lambert–St. Louis International Airport, STL) and flew aboard a 1911 Benoist Type XII School Plane, 18 miles (29 kilometers) to the drop zone at Jefferson Barracks. The airplane was a pusher biplane which was based on a Curtiss pusher, and is also called the Benoist Headless.
Antony H. Jannus and Captain Albert Berry, U.S. Army, prior to their flight, at Kinloch Field, Missouri, 1 March 1912. The parachute is packed inside the inverted cone. (Photo by NASM)
Barry had his parachute packed inside a conical container mounted beneath the airplane’s lower wing. They climbed to an altitude of 1,500 feet (457.2 meters).
When he reached the desired altitude and were over the barracks’ parade grounds, Berry attached the parachute to a harness that he was wearing, then lowered himself on a trapeze-like bar suspended in front of the wings. He pulled a lanyard which released him. The parachute was opened by a static line.
Captain Albert Berry parachuting from the Benoist biplane over Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, 1st of March 1912. ( Photo by NASM)
Captain Berry landed safely. However, Berry who had previously parachuted from balloons was asked if he would repeat the jump from an airplane.
“Never again! I believe I turned five somersaults on my way down. . . My course downward. . . was like a crazy arrow. I was not prepared for the violent sensation that I felt when I broke away from the aeroplane,” he said, as quoted by Associated Press.
Previous History Hour installments:
First Class of Women Naval Aviators
How NASA intentionally crashed a Boeing 720
First jet landing on aircraft carrier
First England to Australia flight
Text Author: Bryan R. Swopes
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