The First Lady of Parachuting

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina women’s history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit on the women of our state’s past.

“Tiny” Broadwick, remembered as the “First Lady of Parachuting,” holds a place in The Guinness Book of World Records for her achievements as a parachutist. Born Georgia Ann Thompson, Broadwick was married at 12, a mother at 13, and abandoned by her husband soon thereafter. At fifteen, Tiny attended a carnival in Raleigh where she watched as Charles Broadwick parachuted from a balloon. It was a life-changing event for her, and Broadwick secured permission for the teenager to join his “World Famous Aeronauts.” Soon after, she became Broadwick’s adopted daughter. Tiny Broadwick 2 At just over four feet, Georgia was nicknamed “Tiny.” She thrilled audiences by jumping from a swing attached to a balloon. As the novelty wore off, the Broadwicks moved their act to flying machines. In 1913, soaring in a biplane, she descended from 2,000 feet, becoming the first woman to parachute from an airplane. In 1914, she demonstrated Broadwick’s pack parachute for Army officials, who were impressed with what they called the “life preserver of the air.” Tiny retired from parachuting in 1922, after more than 1,100 jumps. She is the only female member of the Early Birds of Aviation, and her parachutes are housed at the North Carolina Museum of History and the Smithsonian Institution. See more images of Broadwick at the State Archives and read more about her life at the N.C. Museum of History.

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