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Inventor of Modern Parachute to be Inducted

Floyd Smith in 2022 National Inventors Hall of Fame:

A former trapeze artist turned aviator and test pilot, Floyd Smith holds US Patent Nos. 1,340,423; 1,462,456 for the first successful free-fall parachute.

Near the end of WWI the US Army put together a parachute research group that came under the Engineering Division at McCook Field in Dayton. Their job was to develop a practical parachute for in-flight escape from fixed wing aircraft. They drafted requirements and tested all the existing parachutes they could but none met their requirements. At the same time they also were working on their own design, based largely on Floyd Smith’s concept for a manually operated free-fall parachute. The pilot would wear the chute, climb out and jump away from the airplane, then manually operate the parachute once safely away from the plane.

Shown in the photo is Floyd Smith wearing the prototype Model A, which was the first practical system for inflight escape from fixed wing aircraft. The chute was initially live jumped by Leslie Irvin in April of 1919 and was soon standardized and eventually required for use by Army pilots.

Learn more about Floyd Smith: A trapeze artist turned aviator, Smith's invention of the modern parachute led to the creation of the parachute industry and provided safe landings across the world, saving countless lives.​

See the story on the National Inventors Hall of Fame website at and be sure to click on the "10 Things You Need to Know about Floyd Smith" on that page for more details about this fascinating aviation innovator. The induction ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 5, 2022 in Washington D.C.

Also CLICK HERE to see the Parachute Museum Theater featuring an excellent Smithsonian Channel video about Floyd Smith, Leslie Irvin, and the McCook Field team. When in the theater, scroll down to #2 in the Parachute Museum Theater series.

Learn more about Parachute History: CLICK HERE to download a copy of a Speaker Series presentation on the history of the parachute that was produced by the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum team. And be sure to explore the Parachute Museum page on this ATI website.

Aviation Trail, Inc. Parachute Museum

16 South Williams Street

Dayton, OH 45402

The Aviation Trail Parachute Museum is Site #1b on the Aviation Trail


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