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 who also invented the ripcord.
Born to parents George and Emma Ross on April 8, 1893, Georgia Ann Thompson weighed only 3 pounds. The last of seven daughters, Georgia was given the nickname "Tiny" due to her small size, as she weighed only 85 pounds (39 kg) and was 5 feet (1.5 m) tall. She invented the ripcord. At age 12, Tiny had married and, at 13, had a daughter, Verla Jacobs (later, Poythress) (1906 - 1985). She 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 has also been referenced as his wife (with her own family later unclear on the relationship). Although she would eventually make her jumps from an airplane, in her earlier career she was jumping from balloons.
Billed as "the doll girl," Tiny began performing aerial skydives and stunts while wearing a "life preserver" designed by her adopted father. On December 28, 1908, Tiny made her very first jump out of a hot air balloon. The skydiving family traveled around and performed at fairs, carnivals, and parks. The appeal of the Broadwick Flying troupe, according to Tiny, was that "it was a very neat and fast act."
Among her many other achievements, she was the first woman to parachute from an airplane, which she is credited with accomplishing on June 21, 1913, over Los Angeles, with aviator Glenn L. Martin as the pilot. 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. 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, California. She was also the first woman to parachute into water.
In 1914, she demonstrated parachutes to the U.S. Army, which at the time had a small, hazard-prone fleet of aircraft. The Army, reluctant at first to adopt the parachute, watched as Tiny dropped from the sky. On one of her demonstration jumps, the static line became entangled in the tail assembly of the aircraft, so for her next jump she cut off the static line and deployed her chute manually, thus becoming the first person to jump free-fall. This demonstrated that pilots could escape aircraft by using what was later called a ripcord.
In 1912, Tiny married Andrew Olsen, divorced, then, in 1916, married Harry Brown, and stopped parachuting for four years, and 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; 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.
She 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.
- Roberson, Elizabeth. Tiny Broadwick: The First Lady of Parachuting. Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company Inc, 2001. p 13
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
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- Available on Groucho Marx: You Bet Your Life: The Best Episodes - Disc 2.
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- Roberson, Elizabeth Whitley (May 31, 2001). Tiny Broadwick: The First Lady of Parachuting. Pelican Publishing. ISBN 1-56554-780-2.