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Open 7 days a week, 10 AM - 4 PM
The Aviation Trail Parachute Museum is located on the second floor of the Aviation Trail Visitor Center. The Museum tells the story of the development of the free fall parachute from its invention at Dayton’s McCook Field after World War I, up to the vital role it plays in safely landing today’s spacecraft. The time line around the soffit of the exhibit space highlights significant events in the history of the parachute. The Museum also includes interactive exhibits, artifacts, historic photographs and text.
The research materials permanently housed at Wright State University may be viewed at this link -
The Parachute Museum in reviewing our collection on a regular basis, encourages donations to the museum. Objects are accessioned based on our acceptance policy which can be seen by downloading this document:
In 2020 The Parachute Museum celebrated its tenth year of being open to the public as part of the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center. An article on the anniversary is can be found on the Aviation Blog page:
New Museum Exhibit - August 2022
The Aviation Trail Parachute Museum has introduced a new exhibit as of August, 2022. On display is a fully rigged heavy payload shown as it would be prepared for an airdrop using the Joint Precision Air Drop System.
Who is Dave Gold, and why is his name on the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum logo?
Dave Gold was a leading parachute historian,
and actively participated in all aspects of the
parachuting business. He owned a parachute
business, pursued a jumping career until
debilitated by arthritis, was employed as a
design engineer, and avidly collected historical
and technical materials relating to parachuting.
After his death in 1985, his family donated his collection to Aviation Trail, leading to the founding of the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum. The parachute artifacts are available for research at the Aviation Trail Visitor Center, and additional documents were deposited in the Special Collections and Archives at the Wright State University’s Paul Laurence Dunbar Library, where they also are available for research. The collection includes personal papers, parachute research and development materials, blueprints, manuals, photographs, videos, newspaper clippings, and magazine articles spanning the period of 1917 to 1985.
Randy Zuercher, Curator of the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum, offers this background into Dave Gold’s contributions to the museum:
“We dedicated the museum in his name because the collection is about 70% his collected objects. My understanding is that he befriended Dr. Jerry Meyer (Aviation Trail member) during his many trips to Wright Patt and their friendship made for a commitment of his collection to Aviation Trail to build a museum around. Dr Meyer was the real first Curator and the collection was assessed by local experts from WPAFB and the Smithsonian Institute, being logged/documented at that time. All of this happened subsequent to Dave Gold’s passing, through his children. All of his papers, patents, news articles and technical materials and films are now all cataloged and available through Wright State Archives”.
Learn more about Dave Gold in this bio from the Wright State collection: CLICK HERE
Introducing Parachute Museum Theater
The Parachute Museum Theater presents a series of videos highlighting events and milestones in the history of the parachute. CLICK HERE (or on the logo) to be ushered into the Theater and see the latest story in the series.
• The first story in the series is The Harold Harris Story about the first emergency free fall parachute jump.
• The second story highlights the the Army Air Service's parachute research team at Dayton's McCook Field where engineer James Floyd Smith and ex-stuntman Leslie Irvin helped develop the modern parachute in 1919.
• The sixth video features Felix Baumgartner's 2012 setting a new high altitude jump.
• The seventh video features two historic C-47's, Tico Belle and Placid Lassie, dropping volunteer paratroopers at the National Museum of the United States Air Force on April 27, 2022.
New videos will be added periodically.
Presented by the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum
Parachute Museum Interviews
Video Series of Interviews with Industry Leaders
These videos are a series of interviews with some of the parachute engineers scientists and developers who have been responsible for the most significant and advanced parachute systems of the last half-century and was created by the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum in Dayton Ohio in June 2017 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics forum as part of the Advanced Decelerator Conference.
Chuck Lowry ( is interviewed by
Aviation Trail Vice President Steve Brown
About the Interviews: Every two years the Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Committee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics holds a conference of the national and international parachute technical community. This conference assembles the premier people and organizations involved in commercial, military and space parachute research and development. In June 2017 the 24th AIAA decelerator conference was held in Denver, CO. Through the cooperation of the AIAA Decelerator Tech Committee and the Aviation Trail, Inc, Dave Gold Parachute Museum Committee a series of interviews of some of the most experienced parachute engineers, scientists and managers were conducted at the conference to capture an oral history of parachute development over the last several decades. Chuck Lowery acting as liaison with the Decelerator committee, himself an interviewee, and Steve Brown of the museum committee facilitated the interviews at the conference. The eleven individuals included Mr. Chuck Lowry, Mr. Koki Machin, Mr. Rob Sinclair, Mr. Phil Delurgio, Dr. Carl Peterson, Mr. Ed Vickery, Ms. Elsa Hennings, Mr. John Watkins, Mr. Ben Tutt, Dr. Dean Wolf, and Mr. Dik Farhall. These individuals represent approximately four and a quarter centuries of parachute development experience. Seven of the interviewees; Hennings, Sinclair, Vickery, Lowry, Delurgio, Wolf and Peterson, are recipients of the Theodor W. Knacke Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Award; which is the highest award given by the AIAA for significant contributions to aerodynamic decelerator technology. The interviews were based on the same series of questions to each interviewee and it is clear that there are a few themes that come out in many of the interviews. Many of the interviewees were friends with, or worked at some time with Theo Knacke, an internationally known parachute engineer who had a great deal of impact on the parachute community, and whom after the Knacke award is named. All have seen the advent of computers and continuous improvement of analytical methods as one of the biggest factors that has influenced the parachute industry through their careers; and yet most have indicated that computer methods alone are still not enough; parachute engineers have to be familiar with hardware and need a practical understanding of parachute performance to balance, and validate results obtained from analytical methods. In addition, the advent of new materials has also been seen to have made a big impact on parachute development over the years. The parachute technology community is relatively small compared to other technical communities and many of the individuals are colleagues, who, even though they may work for different organizations, have collaborated to some degree on common programs. What follows are a series of interviews of parachute developers who have been responsible for the most significant and advanced parachute systems of the last half century.
On June 4, 2018 the team from the Parachute Museum hosted a Speaker Series presentation on the history of the parachute at the Wright Brothers Memorial and Huffman Prairie Interpretive Center. Click on the photo for a pdf file of this fascinating look into history.
Aviation Trail Visitor Center &
Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center
Corner of W. Third & S Williams Sts.
16 S. Williams St.
Dayton, OH 45402
Operations Notice: Consistent with CDC guidance regarding areas of substantial or high transmission, visitors to Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask inside all park buildings. We would like to thank you for your patience and commitment in protecting our staff, our visitors, and yourself.
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