North Carolina Centennial of Flight

Tiny Broadwick

Tiny Broadwick was born Georgia Ann Thompson on April 18, 1893, near Oxford, Granville County. When Tiny was fifteen years old, she went to the James J. Jones Carnival in Raleigh, and there witnessed Charles Broadwick parachute from a balloon and land safely on the ground. Tiny was enthralled. After the show she asked to join his act and, after getting her mother's permission, Broadwick accepted. Before long Tiny was the star of the show, and Charles Broadwick decided to adopt her. The troupe traveled across the country with Tiny Broadwick performing daring parachute jumps, sometimes carrying flares and torches.

In 1913, the Broadwick group was living in Los Angeles when army pilot Glenn L. Martin asked Tiny to test out an airplane trap seat he had designed. On June 21, Tiny became the first woman to jump from an airplane. A year later, Charles Broadwick designed a parachute to be worn on the jumper's back, and Tiny dazzled the army's Aviation Bureau with demonstrations. Once, when the chute cord got tangled during a jump, Tiny had to cut the cord to be freed, grabbing the piece that was affixed to the plane. This harrowing feat was the first free fall ever performed, as well as the genesis of the term "rip cord." In 1922, Tiny Broadwick retired from parachute jumping and was later inducted to the Early Birds, an elite group of pioneer aviators. During World War II, she worked in an airplane factory. Tiny died in 1978 and was buried in Granville County.