Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Centennial of the First Parachute Jump From an Airplane Celebrated at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis

By Mark Nankivil
The centennial of the first parachute jump from an airplane was celebrated today at Jefferson Barracks just south of St. Louis today.  A commemorative parachute jump was performed by 82-year-old Lewis Sanborn, a master parachutist with more than 7,300 jumps to his credit. Sanborn served in the Army’s famed 82nd Airborne Division from 1948 to 1952 and has been instrumental in forming several sports parachuting clubs. “It never gets boring because no two jumps are the same,” Sanborn said. “Once I had done 30 or so, I started settling in and then it really becomes fun. It’s the only time in your life when you have complete freedom.”

The event was the brainchild of the Jefferson Barracks Heritage Foundation (JBHF) in conjunction with the Missouri National Guard, the Gateway Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association and the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum.

The first parachute descent from an airplane took place March 1, 1912 at Jefferson Barracks when Capt. Albert Berry successfully jumped from a 1912 Benoist Type 12 “pusher” biplane designed by Missouri native Thomas Benoist (Ben-wah) and piloted by Anthony Jannus. 

Jannus and Berry pose with their Benoist aircraft

Captain Albert Berry practices managing his parachute at Kinloch Field
Born in Irondale, Mo. in 1874, Thomas Benoist became an aircraft designer, manufacturer, pilot, and flight instructor and operated an aviation school in Kinloch Park in 1912.  He started the first commercial airline in the United States that flew from St. Petersburg, Fla. to Tampa in 1914.  According to family folklore, Thomas Benoist became fascinated with flight after taking a hot air balloon ride at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Thomas Benoist was killed in a streetcar accident in Sandusky, Ohio on June 14, 1917. Jannus also met an untimely demise, dying in a 1916 plane crash in Russia.  Not much seems to be known about Capt. Berry’s life after 1916. It is unknown how or when he died.

Here are some views of the commemorative parachute jump performed today:

Lewis Sanborn is out of the plane...(JBHF photo)

Lewis Sanborn descends into Jefferson Barracks
Lewis Sanborn nears his landing zone

Lewis Sanborn and Jefferson Barracks Heritage Foundation Executive Director,  
William F. Florich, Jr. leave the field
Credits: Current Photos by Mark Nankivil; Historic Photos from the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum archive; portions of the text from MO National Guard press release dated Feb. 27, 2012 by Bill Phelan

No comments: