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CLICK HERE for story on Parachute Museum Interviews with Industry Leaders .

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Parachute Museum

MEMBER

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Open 7 days a week, 9 AM - 4 PM

ISee Visitor Center Page for visiting hour updates & details).

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 -

  click here for WSU archives materials.

 

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:

new object consideration policy

Tenth Anniversary:

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:

https://www.aviationtrailinc.org/post/parachute-museum-anniversary

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Parachute Museum News

February 1, 2024

Donation Received from Switlik Survival Products

Major Acquisition from Historic Parachute Company
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In January of 2024 the Aviation Trail Parachute  Museum received a significant donation of vintage parachutes and artifacts to add to its collection. The donation was made by Switlik Survival Products, an early manufacturer of parachutes and a leader in survival products.

A few of the items are shown below:
#1   1941 German Paratrooper chute;
#2   Observation Balloon Guardian Angel chute from WWI;
#3   Air Force C-11 Experimental canopy with side vents;
#4   Japanese parachute with container with silk canopy from 1939;
#5   Early Balloonist chute with trapeze bar 1900.

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These are but a few of the items received. Having received two full skids of parachutes and gear it will take some time to photograph log and prepare for storage/display. We anticipate the materials will be available to the public by the end of February. 

About Switlik Survival Products:

ESTABLISHED IN 1920, Switlik Parachute Co. has been owned and operated by the Switlik family for four generations and is known worldwide as a manufacturer of the highest quality sewn and heat sealed inflatable safety and survival products for the aviation, marine, and military/government markets. Our capabilities include a wide variety of anti-exposure and anti-g suits, inflatable life rafts, inflatable life vests, inflation systems and other specialty textile-based military equipment all manufactured at our 85,000 sq. ft facility located in Trenton, NJ USA.

Switlik Parachute Company
and Switlik Survival Products

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Switlik Survival Products
1325 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08609-1328
www.Switlik.com

Learn more about the fascinating history of Switlik at https://switlik.com/pages/our-story

December 5, 2023

Parachute Museum Receives Donation

B-1A Ejection Capsule Design Drawing & Artifacts

Brother and sister Todd and Sarah Panning were at the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum on October 26, 2023, to present a donation of artifacts relating to the B-1A bomber on behalf of their late father, engineer Don Panning. The donation was arranged by Dick Trapp, Lt Col (ret) USAF, a retired WPAFB engineer and representative of Aerospace Social Group. On hand to receive the items were Aviation Trail President Steve Brown, Parachute Museum Curator Randy Zuercher, plus Parachute Museum Committee members Andrew Kididis and Marty Andries.

The items donated were a B-1A ejection capsule design drawing, an emergency locator radio used by pilots who would have ejected in the capsule, and a pair of pilot's gloves. The crew escape capsule was designed to eject as a unit to improve crew survivability if the crew had to abandon the aircraft at high speed (Mach 2.2). The first three B-1As featured the escape capsule. Only four B-1A prototypes were built, and no production units were manufactured. (It was replaced by the B-1B). A video of a capsule test can be seen in the link or image below.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               USAF photos

Parachute Museum Curator Randy Zuercher says of the donation:

“We are delighted to receive these donations that serve more than the purpose of permanent archiving and display. They also go to helping preserve the memory of their father and his work. Many thanks to the Panning family.”

September 16, 2023

Parachute Museum at WACO Golden Anniversary Fly-IN

2023 was the 100th Anniversary of the original WACO Aircraft Company in Troy, Ohio and the celebration was combined with the 30th Annual WACO Fly-In. The three day family event drew an impressive audience over the weekend in perfect weather. Scores of beautiful WACO aircraft flew in for display and flying demonstrations, with entertainment, food trucks, and many activities for kids.

 

The Aviation Trail Parachute Museum was privileged to be one of the many exhibitors at the event and has provided some photos to share with our website visitors. The Parachute Museum was able to share stories and information about the museum with many of the event attendees of all ages.    

See photos from the Parachute Museum display in the slide-show below.

Photos by

Aviation Trail

copyright 2023

See more on the WACO event on the Aviation Blog page at: https://www.aviationtrailinc.org/post/review-of-2023-waco-fly-in

July 24, 2023

Parachute Museum at Armstrong Event

The Armstrong Air & Space Museum hosted a multitude of activities on July 22 and 23, 2023 as part of the Wapakoneta Summer Moon Festival Community Event. The Aviation Trail Parachute Museum was on hand as one of the attractions. Among the features presented at the Parachute Museum booth:

• Presentations on parachute history

• Try on a parachute

• Demonstrations of parachute aerodynamics

• Learn about the Caterpillar Club

• Demonstrations on different types of parachutes

• Learn about air resistance and freefall

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Click the button below for a news report and video of the weekend highlights, including the Parachute Museum and an interview with Parachute Museum Curator Randy Zuercher.

See a full list of Armstrong Air & Space Museum activities for the event at:

https://www.aviationtrailinc.org/post/the-wapakoneta-summer-moon-festival-community-event-1

July 11, 2023

More News on Ejection Seat Collection 

• On July 11, 2023 the Parachute Museum received a major portion of the ejection seats that are being donated to the museum's collection. Along with the ejection seats were assorted parachutes, accessories, and documentation for the objects. The donor of the objects, Dr. Jean Potvin, personally brought a truck load of items from St. Louis to Dayton. The items will then be logged and further documented into the Parachute Museum collection. Along with previous deliveries in the past year, the Parachute Museum now holds about 70% of the Potvin collection. More items will be coming pending necessary preparation.

• The Aviation Trail Parachute Museum is grateful for this generous and significant contribution by Dr. Potvin.

(For more background on the acquisition and Dr. Potvin, see the preceding story below dated January, 2023).

See photos in the slide show below:

 

JANUARY, 2023

Parachute Museum Announces New Acquisition

The Aviation Trail Parachute Museum announced That it is in the process of acquiring a large collection of Aircraft Ejection Seats to add to the museum’s permanent collections. The items are being donated by Parachute expert and ejection seat collector Dr. Jean Potvin.

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for the full story
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April, 2023

Ejection Seat on Display at Sinclair

One of the ejection seats that is part of the new acquisition by Aviation Trail Parachute Museum, for an F-102, is now on display for public viewing at the Sinclair National UAS Training and Certification Center in Dayton. 

for the story.

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OCTOBER, 2022

Parachute Museum in the News

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WDTN News story features the Parachute Museum for the 100th anniversary of the first emergency bailout from an aircraft using a freefall parachute which took place on October 20, 1922.
CLICK HERE for the story.

AUGUST, 2022

New Museum Exhibit

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.

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Who is Dave Gold, and why is his name on the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum logo?

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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

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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 third story features Capt. Joe Kittinger's 1960 record setting high altitude jump.

In the fourth video a WWII veteran recounts parachuting into enemy fire in WWII.

• The fifth video features First Martin-Baker Ejection Seat Test.

• 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. 

• The eighth video is about the 2021 parachute landing of the Perseverance Rover on Mars.

• The ninth video presentation is a double feature of two videos about the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion at Fort Benning during WWII.

• The tenth video is a presentation by AFResearchLab about parachuting palletized musitions via the "Rapid Dragon" flight tests.

• The eleventh video is a presentation by NASA Jet Propulsion Labs about the Legacy of NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.

 

New videos will be added periodically.

Presented by the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum

Anchor 1

Parachute Museum Interviews

Video Series of Interviews with Industry Leaders 

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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.

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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.

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For Historical Perspective

Click on the photo for a pdf file of a presentation by the Parachute Museum team and a fascinating look into parachute history. 

Aviation Trail Visitor Center & 

Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center

Corner of W. Third & S Williams Sts. 

16 S. Williams St. 

Dayton, OH 45402

(937) 225-7705

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