north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      “Tiny” Broadwick, remembered as the “First Lady of Parachuting,” holds a place in The Guinness Book of World Records for her achievements as a parachutist. Georgia Ann Thompson, married at twelve, was a mother at thirteen, and soon was abandoned by her husband. At fifteen, Georgia, a cotton mill worker in Henderson, attended a carnival in Raleigh. There, she watched as Charles Broadwick jumped from a balloon and descended by parachute. It was a life-changing event for her, and Broadwick secured permission for the teenager to join his “World Famous Aeronauts.” Soon after, she became Broadwick’s adopted daughter. At just over four feet, Georgia was nicknamed “Tiny,” and was billed as “The Doll Girl.” She thrilled audiences by jumping from a swing attached to a balloon. As the novelty wore off, the Broadwicks moved their act to flying machines. In 1913, soaring in a biplane, she descended from 2,000 feet into Griffith Park in Los Angeles, becoming the first woman to jump from an airplane with a parachute.

      In 1914, she demonstrated Broadwick’s pack parachute for Army officials. On her third jump, her line became tangled on the plane’s tail assembly. On the next attempt, Tiny cut the line and pulled her chute open by hand, thus making the first premeditated free-fall parachute jump. The Army had a new “life preserver of the air,” just in time for the “Great War.” Tiny Broadwick retired from parachuting in 1922, after more than 1,100 jumps. During World War II, she worked for an aircraft company. She took up residence in California and attended meetings of aviation groups. She was awarded the Pioneer Aviation Award, the John Glenn Medal, and Gold Wings by the Adventurer’s Club of LA. Tiny also became the only female member of the Early Birds of Aviation, an elite group of aviators who flew prior to 1916. Her early parachutes are housed in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh and the Smithsonian Institution. Broadwick Street in Los Angeles is named for her.

      Tiny Broadwick died in California on August 25, 1978. She was buried at Sunset Gardens in Henderson. Members of the U.S. Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights, served as her pallbearers. While often overlooked in the annals of flight, Broadwick’s place in aviation history is secure. She helped pave the way for greater pilot safety in an era when military aircraft began taking to the skies.

Elizabeth Whitley Roberson, Tiny Broadwick: The First Lady of Parachuting (2001)
Blackburn, Charles Jr. “Tiny Broadwick Leapt into Aviation History,” Our State (January 2004)
Early Birds of Aviation website:
Parachute History website:
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north carolina highway historical marker program

Georgia "Tiny" Broadwick

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources