She was a little bit of a thing, but Georgia Ann “Tiny” Broadwick achieved some larger-than-life accomplishments in her day.
All of 4-foot-8 and 85 pounds, Broadwick had been married, given birth to a child and had jumped out of a hot-air balloon by the time she was 15, according to Mark Pace, who shared details about the Granville County native’s life and career on Thursday’s Around Old Granville segment of The Local Skinny!
She was born in 1893 to tobacco farmers, but her parents moved to Henderson when she was 7 and went to work in the local cotton mill.
She went to see Charles Broadwick’s air show near Raleigh and the rest, as they say, is history.
Pace said she faced trials and tribulations in her early years. “She Literally lived life on the edge,” he said. But when she saw Broadwick’s show, she walked up to him and said “I want to jump out of a balloon.”
Broadwick took her in, became her mentor and basically adopted her. They toured the country for many years and Broadwick was known as the “world famous jumping doll,” Pace said. At age 15, she became the first female to jump from a balloon and then an airplane.
Broadwick wowed the public with his airborne acrobatics, but he also had an eye for business. He associated himself with pilot and aviation Glenn Martin – the Martin of what would become Martin Marietta – and it is during that association that Tiny Broadwick really got her name on the map.
Charles Broadwick was pitching his parachute idea to the Army and Tiny demonstrated how they could be used. During her first jump, the static line got tangled up – that’s the line that literally tethered the parachutist to the airplane – she decided to ditch it on her final jump and essentially did a free fall. But she had a cord attached to the parachute that she herself could deploy, and in so doing she invented the ripcord.
But Broadwick didn’t get a patent on the ripcord, so they missed an opportunity to make money from it.
She died in 1978 at the age of 85 and is buried in Sunset Gardens in Henderson. Her great-granddaughter, Bonnie Young Ayscue, wrote the foreward for a recently published book that includes stories of Tiny Broadwick. The book, published in March 2022, is titled “Ladies of Skydiving A Comprehensive History: Volume One The Early Years” by Robert V. Lewis.