Tiny Broadwick

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Ready to drop from a Martin T airplane piloted by Glenn Martin.

Georgia Ann "Tiny" Thompson Broadwick (April 8, 1893 in Oxford, North Carolina – 1978 in 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

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.


  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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  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. ^ a b "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.
  14. ^ a b c d "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[edit]

  • Roberson, Elizabeth Whitley (May 31, 2001). Tiny Broadwick: The First Lady of Parachuting. Pelican Publishing. ISBN 1-56554-780-2.

External links[edit]