Tuesday, December 19, 2017

We used to make things in this country #279 Irvin Parachutes

In the summer of 1919, Leslie Leroy Irvin wowed crowds at Erie Beach with his new invention, the parachute. With help from the Curtiss Aircraft Company of Buffalo, he jumped out of their plane, ripped open a backpack and descended to safety. In fact, the first person to parachute from a plane in Canada did so at Crystal Beach. Frank Ellis jumped on July 5, 1919. Leslie Irvin was scheduled to make the jump, but he had to cancel due to a sprained ankle. That same year Irvin established the Irving Air Chute Company (the extra 'g' due to a clerical error) in Buffalo to supply the U.S. military.

 The Fort Erie plant was opened in 1925 to meet the British and Canadian military needs. Irvin’s nickname was “Sky High”, which he got from a 1914 film called Sky High which featured one of his descents from a balloon. Irvin saw the need to adapt the parachute for use by airplane pilots and passengers. He developed the backpack and ripcord parachute which, so far, has saved the lives of more than 100,000 people who have bailed out of a plane. After 76 years of business, Irvin Industries closed their Fort Erie plant in 2001.
Fort Eric Museums Newsletter

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