Tiny Broadwick (April 8, 1893 in Oxford, North Carolina – 1978 in California), real name Georgia Ann Thompson, was an American pioneering parachutist and the inventor of the ripcord. She was the first woman to parachute from an airplane.
Georgia Ann Thompson was born in Granville County, North Carolina on April 8th, 1893. She weighed just three pounds, thus giving her the nickname “Tiny”. The name stuck for the rest of her life because even when fully grown, she was just 5 feet tall and weighed only 80 pounds. Georgia married at 12, and had a daughter, Verla, at 13. After her husband was killed in an accident, she had to work 14-hour days in a cotton mill to support her little family.
In 1907, inspired by Charles Broadwick's balloon parachute performance, Georgia decided to join the travelling troupe, leaving her daughter in the care of her parents. Broadwick trained her in the art of parachute jumping, and in 1908, legally adopted her. When this happened, Georgia’s name officially became Tiny Broadwick. Tiny and Charles Broadwick traveled all over the country with their balloon act.
It wasn't until 1912 that a new opportunity presented itself to Tiny when she met famed pilot Glenn Martin. He had seen her jump from a balloon, and asked if she would like to parachute from his airplane instead. Tiny immediately agreed to work for Martin.
In preparation for the jump, Charles Broadwick developed a parachute for Tiny made of silk. It was packed into a knapsack attached to a canvas jacket with harness straps. A string was fastened to the plane’s fuselage and woven through the parachute’s canvas covering. When Tiny jumped from the plane, the cover tore away and her parachute filled with air.
On her first jump, Tiny was suspended from a trap seat behind the wing and outside the cockpit, with the parachute on a shelf above her. Martin took the plane up to two thousand feet, and then Tiny released a lever alongside the seat, allowing it to drop out from under her. The jump was a success and she landed in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, making her the first woman to parachute from an airplane. After that first jump from Martin’s plane, Tiny was in great demand all over the country. She also became the first woman to parachute into a body of water.
Tiny received many honors and awards in her lifetime, including the U.S. Government Pioneer Aviation award and the John Glenn Medal. She is one of the few women in the Early Birds of Aviation, and she also received the Gold Wings of the Adventurer’s Club in Los Angeles. In 1964, Tiny was made an honorary member of the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg. At the age of 85, Tiny Broadwick died and was buried in her home state of North Carolina.
According to asomf.org & Wikipedia