Airborne Systems Celebrates 90th Anniversary of Irvin's Historic Parachute Jump

    SANTA ANA, Calif., April 19 /CNW/ -- Airborne Systems Group, which has
combined the world's leading parachute brands specializing in aerial delivery,
rescue and survival equipment, and engineering services, today marked the 90th
anniversary of the historic parachute jump by Leslie Irvin, who later
pioneered an entire parachute industry.



    Born near Los Angeles, Irvin started a ballooning and parachuting career
in 1911 while in his early teens. In 1915, Irvin joined the Universal Film
Company as a stunt man for the fledging California film industry where he
performed acrobatics on trapezes from balloons and made descents using
parachutes. His experience as a stunt man contributed to his later belief that
a jumper in a free fall descent would not lose consciousness.

    On April 19, 1919, Leslie Leroy Irvin made the world's first free fall
parachute descent using a rip cord, rather than using a canister or tether
line attached to the aircraft to pull open the parachute.  Working with the US
Army's Air Service parachute research team, Irvin made the historic jump from
a plane over McCook field near Dayton, Ohio.  During the jump, Irvin broke his
ankle but was inspired to start his own parachute business.

    Later that year, he opened the Irvin Air Chute Company in Buffalo, NY.
What became known as the Irvin parachute gained rapid acceptance, and by the
early 1930s was in service with some 40 air forces around the world. With the
start of World War II, Irvin became a major manufacturer of parachutes. During
the war, Irvin parachutes saved over 10,000 lives. The Irvin name had set the
standard for innovation, reliability, and quality.

    As a humanitarian, Irvin was obsessed with saving lives with his
equipment. He founded the Caterpillar Club to recognize individuals that had
their lives saved by a parachute. Today, the Caterpillar Club is one of the
most famous flying clubs in the world and has awarded thousands of airmen, and
a few airwomen with a gold caterpillar pin, symbolizing the silk from which
early parachutes were made. Some of its famous members included names such as
Charles Lindberg, General James Doolittle and former astronaut John Glenn.

    Irvin's design innovations weren't limited to parachutes. With aircraft
flying at increasing altitudes, pilots were subjected to lowering
temperatures. To address this requirement, Irvin designed and manufactured the
classic leather and sheepskin RAF flying jacket which became recognized during
the Second World War.

    In later years, Irvin's company also made car seat belts, slings for
cargo handling and even canning machinery. The company later changed its name
to Irvin Aerospace to reflect the change to the newer markets it served.
Today, Irvin Aerospace is a brand of Airborne Systems, a leading designer and
one of the world's largest manufacturers of parachutes and related equipment.

    "Leslie Irvin was a parachute pioneer and a true American hero," said
Paul Colliver, a 50 year employee of the Irvin Company who worked for Leslie
Irvin. "How many people can say they made something that saved tens of
thousands of lives?"

    About Airborne Systems
    Airborne Systems has combined the core technologies of four of the
world's leading parachute brands, Irvin Aerospace, GQ Parachutes, Para-Flite
and AML (Aircraft Materials, Ltd). Airborne Systems is a world leader in the
design, development, and manufacture of best-of-class parachutes for military,
personnel, and cargo systems, space and air vehicle recovery systems, and
deceleration systems for high-performance aircraft. The company also provides
airbags, ordnance flare chutes and weapons delivery systems. Airborne Systems
has manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada and in the U.K.
Information about the various Airborne Systems products and services can be
found on the World Wide Web at


For further information:

For further information: Gary Calvaneso, Executive Vice President,
Marketing of Airborne Systems, +1-949-933-8247, Web Site:

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