Parachuting Pioneer

J. Floyd Smith

© 2009

with Dan Poynter, PIA Historian
ParaPub.com
J. Floyd Smith—Mr. Parachute
 Inventor
 Designer

 Manufacturer
 Tester
 Jumper

He designed parachutes for the
milit...
Smith was Everywhere
He designed parachutes for







U.S. Army Air Corp
Russell
Irvin
Switlik
Pioneer
Smith was the...
Pilot License #207

ParaPub.com
James Floyd Smith, Pilot.

ParaPub.com
Albert and James Floyd Smith 1915
Outline of Parachute Development
To understand the significance of the
manually-operated (ripcord)
parachute, let’s review...
1100: Rigid, held open.

1100s: Chinese

-

1495: Leonardo da Vinci - 1595 or 1617: Fausto Veranzio

ParaPub.com
1785: Non-rigid, suspended
Canopy not packed

Hanging loose, ready to
inflate.
Blanchard

Garnerin
Bourget
Baldwin

Pa...
Thomas Baldwin

He sat on a trapeze bar
and
Jumped holding on to
the lines of the canopy
ParaPub.com
1890: Foldable, Attached to Aircraft.
Canopy packed
into a bag on
the aircraft
(balloon)
Lettemen

Paulus

Charlie Dame ...
1901: Pack on Back―Static Lined
Attached to wearer and
static line operated
 Broadwick
 Stevens
 Irvin

Tiny Broadwick ...
1918: Pack on Back-Free type
Attached to wearer and
manually operated
Smith Aerial Life Pack
Army Type “A”


Note the ri...
Milestones in Jumping
From Airplanes
1912: Albert Berry over St. Louis.
1912: Grant Morton, Venice, California from
a Wrig...
Floyd Smith’s

st
1

Patent

Filed July 27, 1918.
He wore a manually-operated parachute of his own design
while flying in ...
Leslie Irvin’s 1st Patent
A Static-Line-Operated Design

Application Filed December 16, 1918

ParaPub.com
1918-1920: The Army Years
McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio

Major E. L. Hoffman, Team Leader.
 Floyd Smith, designer and pilot....
The Team at MCook

Russell

Smith

Bottriel
Hoffman

Ball

ParaPub.com
Testing at McCook Field

Floyd Smith inspects damage to a Heinicke canopy
dropped with 200 lbs at 150 mph on June 9, 1919
...
ParaPub.com
The U.S. Airplane
Type “A” Parachute

Guy Ball
ParaPub.com
April 28, 1919 at McCook Field, Ohio.
Leslie Irvin made a
freefall jump to test
the Type A parachute
as Floyd Smith pilote...
(Sidebar)
Irvin immediately formed Irving Air Chutes and
built the first 300 units for the Army.
In a rush to incorporate,...
Jimmy Russell Makes Test Jump #3
Fifteen days later,
on May 12, 1919,
Floyd Smith,
Jimmy Russell
and 2 others
jumped the n...
Smith’s Second Patent
Provides more Detail

Filed on April 28, 1919

ParaPub.com
Floyd Smith’s Third Patent on a
Pack & Harness

December 31, 1919

ParaPub.com
Irvin’s

nd
2

Patent

Filed January 9, 1920

ParaPub.com
The First Parachute Manual

October 1920

ParaPub.com
Line-Riser Attachment

Smith filed it October 22, 1920

ParaPub.com
Pack Patent

Smith filed it April 18, 1921

ParaPub.com
Smith Kept on Designing

Filed April 10, 1921

ParaPub.com
Early 20s: The Russell Years

The Russell Lobe Back Type Parachute

ParaPub.com
Pack & Harness for Irvin

Quick-Attachable Chest parachute, filed March 31, 1927
ParaPub.com
1931-32: The Switlik Years
Floyd Smith
designed
the Safe-T
Chutes with
oval packs.
The top part
of the pack
became the
pil...
Mid-30s: The Irvin Years

Filed March 6, 1935

ParaPub.com
1938-1947: The Pioneer Years
Floyd Smith and Lyman Ford approach
Henry R. Mallory at the 100-year-old
Cheney Brothers Mill...
New Packing Method
Pioneer

Filed September 6, 1939, assigned to Pioneer

ParaPub.com
New Container

November 15, 1939

The P1-B Container included bow stiffeners
which permitted a flexible and more comfortab...
A-2 Pilot Chute

Filed September 6, 1939, assigned to Pioneer

ParaPub.com
1940: Whirl Tower
Smith was obsessed by
canopy malfunctions. He
claimed that partial
inversions occurred 3-9
times out of ...
Container & Packing
Filed October 9, 1941

Note the restraint straps over the lower portion of the canopy.
Break-ties are ...
AAD Attachment

Filed August 12, 1943

ParaPub.com
1948: The Slider
The slider was invented by J. Floyd
Smith in 1948.
It was adapted to wing-type
canopies by Greg Yarbenet ...
He Kept on Designing

Filed October 21, 1950

ParaPub.com
A Parachute Family


Floyd’s son Prevost, worked for Pioneer
from 1942 to 1947.

 Then

Floyd & Prevost moved to San Die...
Floyd Smith: 1884 - 1956

Portal of Folded Wings, Burbank, CA, Airport.
Recognized in last line

ParaPub.com
J. Floyd Smith
 Inventor
 Designer

 Manufacturer
 Tester
 Jumper

He designed parachutes
for the military, Russell, ...
J. Floyd Smith

2009 PIA Don Beck Memorial
Achievement Award

Mr. Parachute
End

ParaPub.com
ParaPub.com
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Floyd Smith, Parachuting Pioneer, Biography

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James Floyd Smith designed more parachutes, for more companies, than any other human being.
1884 - 1956.
He is the father of the parachute industry.
He was and is “Mr. Parachute”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Floyd_Smith

Floyd Smith was the John Browning of parachute design. From 1916 through 1955, he designed most of the basic parachutes for four major parachute companies and the U.S. Army Air Corp.

Dan recites the development of the personnel parachute from Leonardo da Vinci (1495) up to modern times and chronicles Floyd Smith’s contributions to the modern parachute.

Floyd Smith was honored by the Parachute Industry Association in 2007 with the PIA Achievement Award (posthumously).

A tribute to a fascinating parachute designer.


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.

Published in: Design, Sports, Business
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Floyd Smith, Parachuting Pioneer, Biography

  1. 1. Parachuting Pioneer J. Floyd Smith © 2009 with Dan Poynter, PIA Historian ParaPub.com
  2. 2. J. Floyd Smith—Mr. Parachute  Inventor  Designer  Manufacturer  Tester  Jumper He designed parachutes for the military and every major U.S. parachute company ParaPub.com
  3. 3. Smith was Everywhere He designed parachutes for      U.S. Army Air Corp Russell Irvin Switlik Pioneer Smith was the John Browning of Parachutes ParaPub.com
  4. 4. Pilot License #207 ParaPub.com
  5. 5. James Floyd Smith, Pilot. ParaPub.com Albert and James Floyd Smith 1915
  6. 6. Outline of Parachute Development To understand the significance of the manually-operated (ripcord) parachute, let’s review the development of the parachute down through the ages. ParaPub.com
  7. 7. 1100: Rigid, held open. 1100s: Chinese - 1495: Leonardo da Vinci - 1595 or 1617: Fausto Veranzio ParaPub.com
  8. 8. 1785: Non-rigid, suspended Canopy not packed Hanging loose, ready to inflate. Blanchard Garnerin Bourget Baldwin ParaPub.com
  9. 9. Thomas Baldwin He sat on a trapeze bar and Jumped holding on to the lines of the canopy ParaPub.com
  10. 10. 1890: Foldable, Attached to Aircraft. Canopy packed into a bag on the aircraft (balloon) Lettemen Paulus Charlie Dame ascending over Rochester, NH, in 1927. Käthe Paulus ParaPub.com
  11. 11. 1901: Pack on Back―Static Lined Attached to wearer and static line operated  Broadwick  Stevens  Irvin Tiny Broadwick in 1914 ParaPub.com
  12. 12. 1918: Pack on Back-Free type Attached to wearer and manually operated Smith Aerial Life Pack Army Type “A”  Note the ripcord handle ParaPub.com
  13. 13. Milestones in Jumping From Airplanes 1912: Albert Berry over St. Louis. 1912: Grant Morton, Venice, California from a Wright Model B airplane. He carried the folded canopy in his arms. 1913: Tiny Broadwick from Glenn Martin’s plane. First woman. 1914: Tiny Broadwick pulled own “cord”. 1916: Austrian pilot escaped a burning plane on the Russian front. ParaPub.com
  14. 14. Floyd Smith’s st 1 Patent Filed July 27, 1918. He wore a manually-operated parachute of his own design while flying in late 1917. ParaPub.com
  15. 15. Leslie Irvin’s 1st Patent A Static-Line-Operated Design Application Filed December 16, 1918 ParaPub.com
  16. 16. 1918-1920: The Army Years McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio Major E. L. Hoffman, Team Leader.  Floyd Smith, designer and pilot.  Guy Ball, designer.  Leslie Irvin, movie stunt man.  Jimmy Russell, Jumper.  J. J. Higgins  Sgt Ralph Bottreil, Pilot & Jumper.  ParaPub.com
  17. 17. The Team at MCook Russell Smith Bottriel Hoffman Ball ParaPub.com
  18. 18. Testing at McCook Field Floyd Smith inspects damage to a Heinicke canopy dropped with 200 lbs at 150 mph on June 9, 1919 ParaPub.com
  19. 19. ParaPub.com
  20. 20. The U.S. Airplane Type “A” Parachute Guy Ball ParaPub.com
  21. 21. April 28, 1919 at McCook Field, Ohio. Leslie Irvin made a freefall jump to test the Type A parachute as Floyd Smith piloted the plane. The manually-operated parachute was basically the same one that Smith had designed earlier. ParaPub.com
  22. 22. (Sidebar) Irvin immediately formed Irving Air Chutes and built the first 300 units for the Army. In a rush to incorporate, a “g” was added to the Irvin name and the company was “Irving Air Chutes” for 40 years ***. In 1999 *** Irvin UK and GQ merged *** And became Irvin-GQ. Ironically, the email addresses for employees became xxx@Irvingq.co.uk or “IrvingQ”. ParaPub.com
  23. 23. Jimmy Russell Makes Test Jump #3 Fifteen days later, on May 12, 1919, Floyd Smith, Jimmy Russell and 2 others jumped the new parachute. ParaPub.com
  24. 24. Smith’s Second Patent Provides more Detail Filed on April 28, 1919 ParaPub.com
  25. 25. Floyd Smith’s Third Patent on a Pack & Harness December 31, 1919 ParaPub.com
  26. 26. Irvin’s nd 2 Patent Filed January 9, 1920 ParaPub.com
  27. 27. The First Parachute Manual October 1920 ParaPub.com
  28. 28. Line-Riser Attachment Smith filed it October 22, 1920 ParaPub.com
  29. 29. Pack Patent Smith filed it April 18, 1921 ParaPub.com
  30. 30. Smith Kept on Designing Filed April 10, 1921 ParaPub.com
  31. 31. Early 20s: The Russell Years The Russell Lobe Back Type Parachute ParaPub.com
  32. 32. Pack & Harness for Irvin Quick-Attachable Chest parachute, filed March 31, 1927 ParaPub.com
  33. 33. 1931-32: The Switlik Years Floyd Smith designed the Safe-T Chutes with oval packs. The top part of the pack became the pilot chute. ParaPub.com
  34. 34. Mid-30s: The Irvin Years Filed March 6, 1935 ParaPub.com
  35. 35. 1938-1947: The Pioneer Years Floyd Smith and Lyman Ford approach Henry R. Mallory at the 100-year-old Cheney Brothers Mills in Manchester, Connecticut, proposing to form a parachute company. Pioneer Parachute Co. was established and Smith designed a new line of parachutes. ParaPub.com
  36. 36. New Packing Method Pioneer Filed September 6, 1939, assigned to Pioneer ParaPub.com
  37. 37. New Container November 15, 1939 The P1-B Container included bow stiffeners which permitted a flexible and more comfortable pack ParaPub.com
  38. 38. A-2 Pilot Chute Filed September 6, 1939, assigned to Pioneer ParaPub.com
  39. 39. 1940: Whirl Tower Smith was obsessed by canopy malfunctions. He claimed that partial inversions occurred 3-9 times out of each 100 openings. (Temporary partial inversions occur even more often). Result: he developed a new packing method . . . N: Packing patent ParaPub.com
  40. 40. Container & Packing Filed October 9, 1941 Note the restraint straps over the lower portion of the canopy. Break-ties are used today. ParaPub.com
  41. 41. AAD Attachment Filed August 12, 1943 ParaPub.com
  42. 42. 1948: The Slider The slider was invented by J. Floyd Smith in 1948. It was adapted to wing-type canopies by Greg Yarbenet of Erie, Pennsylvania, as he experimented with some of Pioneer's gliding canopies. It soon found its way onto most gliding canopies. ParaPub.com
  43. 43. He Kept on Designing Filed October 21, 1950 ParaPub.com
  44. 44. A Parachute Family  Floyd’s son Prevost, worked for Pioneer from 1942 to 1947.  Then Floyd & Prevost moved to San Diego to set up their own parachute company.  Grandson Eric worked at the plant and now works for the U.S. Navy at China Lake. ParaPub.com
  45. 45. Floyd Smith: 1884 - 1956 Portal of Folded Wings, Burbank, CA, Airport. Recognized in last line ParaPub.com
  46. 46. J. Floyd Smith  Inventor  Designer  Manufacturer  Tester  Jumper He designed parachutes for the military, Russell, Irvin, Switlik & Pioneer. Mr. Parachute N: Applause ParaPub.com
  47. 47. J. Floyd Smith 2009 PIA Don Beck Memorial Achievement Award Mr. Parachute End ParaPub.com
  48. 48. ParaPub.com

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