Caterpillar Club, Membership for Life - Parachutes


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The Caterpillar Club

The silk worm is a caterpillar; until 1941, parachute canopies were made of silk. Aviators who used parachutes to escape disabled aircraft were awarded a small gold Caterpillar pin and were inducted into the Caterpillar Club.

This presentation traces the origin of the Caterpillar Club and recounts the fascinating stories of people who were saved by a parachute. For example, you will discover how a future president of the U.S. was saved by a parachute in WW-II and how Charles Lindberg joined the Club four times before making his historic trans-Atlantic flight.

Dan Poynter is past president of the Parachute Industry Association, past chairman of the Board of the U.S. Parachute Association and past president of the International Hang Gliding Commission. He has written more than 120 books; seven on parachutes and skydiving. A pilot, skydiver and master parachute rigger, this Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) is a frequent speaker at aviation and other events.

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Caterpillar Club, Membership for Life - Parachutes

  1. 1. with Dan Poynter, D-454 © 2010 PIA
  2. 2. The Role of Parachutes in Early Aviation  Aviation engineers helped people to fly Most flights had one takeoff and one landing  Aircraft accomplishments have been well documented   Parachute engineers helped people to land When the aircraft failed  Parachute successes are documented by the Caterpillar Club  PIA
  3. 3. What is the Caterpillar Club? Who is eligible? Any person who saves his or her life jumping from a disabled aircraft with a parachute. Does it exist today? An association no one wants to join PIA
  4. 4. First Save from a Plane 1922: Lt. Harold Harris saves his life jumping from an airplane. He used a manually-operated parachute He follows subtitle PIA
  5. 5. The Founders - 1922    Milton St. Clair, Government parachute engineer Maurice Hutton, Aviation editor, Dayton Herald Verne Timmerman, photogr apher, Dayton Herald N: More. (Same slide) PIA
  6. 6. The Founders    Milton St. Clair, Government parachute engineer Maurice Hutton, Aviation editor, Dayton Herald Verne Timmerman, photogr apher, Dayton Herald PIA
  7. 7. Irvin PIA
  8. 8. Switlik  Switlik founded in 1920  Began manufacturing parachutes in 1927  Founded their own Club in 1943 PIA
  9. 9. Pioneer   Began business in 1938 Caterpillar plaques for the packers not the users PIA
  10. 10. Club Growth was Slow at First Parachutes could not be manufactured fast enough to equip all pilots  Pilots preferred not to use them     (Like AADs in the early days) High-weight, high-volume. Aircraft not designed for them PIA
  11. 11. Roster of the Caterpillar Club No. DATE 1919 1 July 21 2 July 21 1920 3 August 24 NAME RANK PLACE NOTE Henry Wacker John Boettner Civilian Civilian Chicago Chicago Balloon Balloon William O'Connor Civilian Dayton Balloon -----------------------Caterpillar Club Established---------------------------1922 4 Oct. 20 5 Nov. 11 1924 6 April 23 7 May 13 8 June 5 9 June 13 10 June 18 11 July 11 12 August 29 13 August 29 14 Oct. 16 15 Nov. 4 Harold R. Harris Frank B. Tyndall 1st Lt. Air Corps 1st Lt. Air Corps McCook Field 1st Plane Seattle, Wash. Wilfred Bottomfield Eugene H. Barksdale Will W. White Walter Lees John A. Macready A. R. Crawford W. E. Goggin L. L. Koontz W. M. Coles W. E. Lynd Civilian, Demo Jumper 1st Lt. Air Corps 2nd Lt. Air Corps Lieut. A C Reserve 1st Lt. Air Corps 2nd Lt. Air Corps Private Air Corps 1st Lt. Air Corps Gunner U. S. Navy Captain Air Corps San Antonio, Tex. Fairfield, 0hio. Kelly Field, Tex. Dayton, Ohio. Dayton, Ohio. Kelly Field, Tex. Bolling Field, DC. Bolling Field, DC. Coronado, Calif. Kelly Field, Tex. PIA
  12. 12. Balloon Jumpers 1,2 & 3, Wacker, Boettner and O’Connor, were grandfathered in 9 years later. They had jumped from a blimp, The Wingfoot Express, over Chicago. The record of their jumps had been forgotten.  Many jumped from balloons in WW-I; some jumped from planes. Their records were lost.  PIA
  13. 13. 1925 16 March 5 C. D. McAllister 2nd Lt. Air Corps Kelly Field, Tex. 17* March 5 Chas. A. Lindbergh Cadet Air Corps Kelly Field, Tex. 18 March 20 Frank O'D. Hunter 1st Lt. Air Corps Dayton 19 April 6 C. V. Mix Sgt. Marine Corps Quantico, Va. 20 April 10 J. Thad Johnson 1st Lt. Air Corps Eaglesmere, Pa. 21 May 29 C. H. Schildhauer Lieut. U. S. Navy Lakehurst, N. J. 17* June 2 Chas. A. Lindbergh 2nd Lt. A. C. Res. St. Louis, Mo. 22 June 28 Mrs. Irene McFarland Civilian Cincinnati, 0. 23 August 17 Kirtley J. Gregg 2nd Lt. Air Corps Lavernia, Tex. 24 October 1 F. 0. Rogers Capt. U.S. Marines Langley Field, Va. 25 October 10 Fred C. Nelson 1st Lt. Air Corps St. Louis, Mo. 26 Nov. 11 Leonard S. Flo 2nd Lt. A. C. Res. Wright Field, 0hio. 27 Nov. 11 John McGlynn Private Air Corps Wright Field, 0hio. * = When they qualified again, they kept their original ranking numbers PIA
  14. 14. 1926 28 (Date ?) J. T. Coburn Machinist Mate U.S.N. San Diego, Calif. 18* March 5 Frank O'D. Hunter 1st Lt. Air Corps Selfridge Field, Mich. 7* March 2 Eugene H. Barksdale 1st Lt. Air Corps McCook Field, 0. 29 May 10 Horace M. Hickam Major. Air Corps Langley Field, Va. 30 May 10 Harold Geiger Major Air Corps Langley Field, Va. 31 June 2 S. E. Ingersoll Lieut. U. S. Navy Pensacola, Fla. 32 June 17 J. T. Hutchison 1st Lt. Air Corps McCook Field, 0. 33 June 17 Paul Stanley Civilian Observer McCook Field, 0. 34 July 5 Walter M. Williams Capt. Nat'l Guard Nashville, Tenn. 35 July 5 John W. MacKenzie 2nd Lt. Nat'l Guard Nashville, Tenn. 36 July 24 Victor E. Bertrandias 1st Lt. Air Corps Baltimore, Md. 37 August 8 John I. Moore Georgetown, Tex. 17* Sept. 16 Chas. A. Lindbergh Air Mail Pilot Ottawa, Ill. 38 Sept. 17 C.L. Williams Hawaii 17* Nov. 3 Chas. A. Lindbergh Air Mail Pilot 1st Lt. Air Corps 1st Lt. Air Corps Covell, Ill. PIA * = When they qualified again, they kept their original ranking numbers
  15. 15. Charles Lindbergh   N: More Made demo jumps to pay for flying lessons. As a test pilot, he jumped twice PIA
  16. 16. He Flew the Mail and Joined the Club 2 More Times Lindbergh (in the cockpit) and Frank Robertson (in his flying suit) taking the mail to Chicago in 1928. PIA
  17. 17. Fay Gillis Wells  Second woman Caterpillar, 1929.  Co-founder of the Ninety-Nines  Passed away at 94 in 2002 PIA
  18. 18. The Club Grew 1922: 5 1925: 27 1926: 40 1927: 78 1928: 120 1930: 210 --WW-II-1946: >100,000 (estimated) saved. 34,000 joined the Irvin Club. 1950: 80,000 in the Irvin Club. PIA
  19. 19. Jimmy Doolittle’s Membership  Four emergency bailouts.  The last: April 18, 1942 over China when his B-25 ran out of fuel after his historic raid over Tokyo. PIA
  20. 20. The Best Silk Came From Japan Silent Film Caption PIA
  21. 21. Weaving Silk Fabric PIA
  22. 22. George Bush (41)  Switllik QAS. Canopy made of silk from Japan.  This Caterpillar jumped again PIA
  23. 23. Nylon 1938: DuPont announces nylon 1941: Japan cuts off silk supply 1942: Other countries tried linen, hemp, Rayon, etc. U.S. switched to nylon Betty Grable PIA
  24. 24. Worm Spit or Coal? Should the pin be changed? PIA
  25. 25. The Sport of Parachuting  1950s: A Sport is Born   Rapid growth Question? Are sport parachutists eligible to join?  Pilots use a plane and a parachute.  Skydivers use a main and a reserve Each has two means of escape: One primary and one secondary PIA
  26. 26. The Skydiver’s Handbook Not Just a How-to Book A Have-to Book for a Must-do sport (Commercial message) N: Everyone is reading PIA
  27. 27. Everyone reads The Skydiver’s Handbook PIA
  28. 28. Do Skydivers Qualify?  Jumped from aircraft (balloons) not airplanes   2. John Boettner 1919   1. Henry Wacker 1919 3. William O’Connor 1920 Demo jumper using a reserve parachute  6. Wilifred Bottomfield  1924 Neither a pilot nor member of the crew PIA
  29. 29. What is the Membership Criteria? Any person who saves his or her life jumping from a disabled aircraft with a parachute.  Life must be “saved”   Deploying a reserve from a minor malfunction of the main does not count Is a parachute an aircraft?  If a balloon is an aircraft, isn’t a canopy an aircraft? PIA
  30. 30. Don’t Skydivers Qualify?  The skydiver of today who must use a reserve has as much right to membership as:   Stunt jumpers in the 1920s All airmen who have bailed out since (Old Skydivers Never Die. They go to a Higher Plane) PIA
  31. 31. 8 July 03 Dear Dan Irvin does still run the Irvin Caterpillar Club and maintain their records. We do still accept new members (they must provide proof of bail out) and we provide replacement pins and cards for existing members. Records for North America are maintained here at our offices in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, and the rest are located at our UK offices. Hope this helps. Let me know if you require any more specific information. Yours Sincerely Eileen Carlton Secretary Irvin Caterpillar Club PIA
  32. 32. Do We Care?  The original purpose was to bring attention to the value of a parachute Is there a need now?  Does recognizing that reserves work demonstrate that mains can fail?  PIA
  33. 33. The Role of the Parachute  Saved many of the pioneers   Allowed them to continue their work Still saving aviators today PIA
  34. 34. Tough Ways to Join the Club A: 1930 B: 1962 PIA
  35. 35. Thunderbird F-16 Ejection Sept 2003, Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. Once-in-a-lifetime photograph PIA
  36. 36. Split-S AGL v MSL. 2,500 v 1,500 (1,670’) “Knock it off” = code for big problem PIA
  37. 37. 250 mph, 140’ high 8/10th second from impact PIA
  38. 38. From Inside the Cockpit Watch for the end PIA
  39. 39. See Ejecting Pilot PIA
  40. 40. —100 feet— See Photographer on Tower Catwalk PIA Plane stopped 100’ short of tower
  41. 41. Thunderbird F-16 Ejection Let’s look at that ejection again PIA
  42. 42. 1945 N: End PIA
  43. 43. Caterpillar Club Membership for Life PIA