Categories: Invention and Technology, Manchester, Oxford, Women, World War II

First Human Test of a Nylon Parachute – Today in History: June 6

Adeline Gray at the Pioneer Parachute Company, Manchester
Adeline Gray at the Pioneer Parachute Company, Manchester, 1944
– Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

On June 6, 1942, Adeline Gray made the first jump by a human with a nylon parachute at Brainard Field in Hartford. Her jump, performed before a group of Army officials, put the world’s first nylon parachute to the test. The Pioneer Parachute Company of Manchester fabricated the new nylon material, which was developed as an alternative to silk. Working in concert with the Cheney Brothers Company of Manchester and the DuPont Company, Pioneer Parachute developed a material that combined “compactness with lightness, resiliency and strength.”

Gray, who was 24 years old at the time of the jump, was from Oxford and worked as a licensed parachute rigger and packer at the Pioneer Parachute Company. She began jumping at age 19 and at the time of the nylon “jump test” had completed 32 jumps and was the only licensed female parachute jumper in Connecticut.

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