We recently shared a blog telling the story of the Parachute Regiment’s first drop and how it came to be formed, as well as the SAS’ first mission, but what about the history of parachute jumping itself?
The first ever successful British parachute jump was carried out in 1938 by an Englishman, John Hampton. He jumped from a hot air balloon near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, from a height of around 9000ft.
Parachutes were not a new thing at this time but they had certainly ‘improved’ somewhat. During the First World War in 1916, an Australian pilot on the Russian front made the first escape by parachute from his disabled aircraft. The following year saw the German and British begin to equip their forces with these life saving devices.
In 1940, Winston Churchill instructed the War Office that ‘We ought to have a Corps of at least 5000 parachute troops’. This led to the development of the British Airborne Forces. After WW2, the world of sport parachuting was explored, with early pioneers carrying nicknames such as ‘Dumbo’ Willans (After the flying circus elephant) and ‘Dare’ Wilson, who cut holes and tailored surplus military parachutes to be steered and controlled easier for their use in the sporting world.
The history of parachute jumping has evolved so much since the early days but one thing remains the same, whether its Military or sporting….the people who engage with it are all wired differently than most.
To see the antics of these types of people be sure to follow our sponsored freefall team on Instagram – #TeamLearningCurve operating out of Skydive Headcorn.