Grant Morton

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Grant Morton (1857?–1920)[1] born William H. Morton is one of the first people to successfully attempt skydiving, and is sometimes credited with the first skydive and jump from a powered aeroplane, in 1911.[2] Supposedly, at age 54, Morton, a veteran career parachutist, made the first dive by jumping from a Wright Model B over Venice, California.[3]

Near death incidents[edit]

On May 15, 1905 Grant Morton ascended in a balloon to 5,000 feet. At some point he became injured and began bleeding becoming unconscious but descending safely with his body lashed to the balloon's trapeze.[4] On July 2, 1905 Morton was nearly killed during an exhibition at Urbita Springs, San Bernardino, California. He was ascending in a hot-air balloon when the balloon hit tree limbs and gas began to escape. The balloon, however, reached a height of 200 feet before falling rapidly and hitting another tree. Morton was taken to the county hospital with a broken shoulder amongst other injuries but was expected to recover.[5] Some weeks later in August 1905 Morton had another incident in a balloon, again at Urbita Springs, when the balloon he was ascending in became a runaway and Morton jumped clear allowing the vessel to float away on its own.[6] Because of his various injuries Morton had become incapacitated by October and was unable to work putting him and his wife in poverty. His wife sought to go out and work which angered Morton and he is reported to have engaged in spousal abuse over his wife working against his wishes.[7][8]

Morton vs. Albert Berry controversy[edit]

An article in Air and Space Magazine published by the Smithsonian (dated February 29 and March 1, 2012)[9] makes a claim that U.S. Army Captain Albert Berry was the first to jump from a powered airplane on March 1, 1912 (with Anthony Jannus as his pilot) and that Morton did so on April 28, 1912 which would certainly give credit to Berry, providing it was Morton's first airplane jump and not his second or third. The article states Morton's jump of April 28, 1912 to have been at 2,600 feet over Venice Beach with Phil Parmalee as his pilot. Several accounts published throughout the last one hundred years consistently give the 1911 jump date for Morton' first airplane jump and that it was at 4,000 plus feet and closer to Los Angeles itself, Venice Beach being a suburb of the larger city. This would be a difference of over 1400 feet, significant differences in altitude.[10] [11] [12] [13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Who's Who of Ballooning by Robert Recks; online version of printed source..Retrieved October 29, 2017
  2. ^ Meeks, Christopher (1991). Skydiving. Capstone Press. ISBN 978-1-56065-051-5.
  3. ^ Bates, Jim (1990). Parachuting: from student to skydiver. Tab Books. ISBN 978-0-8306-3406-4.
  4. ^ AERONAUT MAKES PERILOUS TRIP, Local Voyager Has Narrow Escape, Flies 5000 Feet Above Earth Los Angeles Herald, Vol.32, #226, May 15, 1905 ..Retrieved October 29, 2017
  5. ^ GUST OF WIND NEARLY CAUSES THE DEATH OF GRANT MORTON, The San Francisco Call, July 3, 1905 Retrieved October 29, 2017
  6. ^ MORTON JUMPED, BALLOON STRUCK; The San Bernardino Sun vol.24 #15, August 29, 1905 Retrieved October 29, 2017
  7. ^ RIALTO COLONIST REAPS A GOLDEN HARVEST Los Angeles Herald, Vol.33, #21, October 22, 1905 ..Retrieved October 29, 2017
  8. ^ Ups and downs for parachutists tough on family life; the daily bulletin, May 18, 2015 by Joe Blackstock ..Retrieved October 29, 2017
  9. ^ Berry's Leap, The Daily Planet, Air & Space Magazine, Smithsonian part one (February 29, 2012) and part two (March 1, 2012) Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ The Parachute Manual: A Technical Treatise on Aerodynamic Decelerators by Dan Poynter, c.1984
  11. ^ United States Air Force 60th Anniversary: lessons learned in airpower throughout the ages by Gary Gault, Brian Pierson, Stacy Hecht; Department of the United States Air Force, c.2007
  12. ^ Walking on Air: The Aerial Adventures of Phoebe Omlie by Janaan Sherman,c.2011
  13. ^ Google Books readout of some sources claiming Grant Morton's first jump from a plane (*note older sources are more definite in their claiming of Morton, rather than saying 'some sources')