100th Anniversary Of First Man To Parachute From Plane

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Look, up in the sky.  It's a bird, it`s a plane!  It's 100 years of history, floating to the ground.

'It's a feeling of flying once you get the canopy open,' says Lew Sanborn.

X marked the spot where 82-year old Lewis Sanborn landed to honor parachuting's past.

'It's a story because it was made here and a man survived,' says Sanborn.

'It was 100 years ago,' says Patrick Clark.  'Right here at Jefferson Barracks, in 1912 Army Capt. Albert Berry became the first man to successfully parachute from a perfectly good airplane.'

It sounds like the start of a math question.

Berry was 1500 feet in the air and jumped from this plane traveling at 55 miles per hour.

Charles Benoist`s Uncle Thomas, built that plane.

'Nearly everybody thought it was impossible to leave a small plane without upsetting the plane and causing it to crash,' says Chuck Benoist, the Nephew of plane designer Thomas Benoist.

The parachute was too bulky for Berry`s back so it was carried in an iron cone underneath the plane.

Berry had to climb down through the plane`s fuselage and sit on a trapeze bar.  He stuck his legs through two leg loops and slid a belt around his waist, cutting a rope to begin the descent.

He fell 500 feet before his chute opened.

The pilot, Tony Jannus, had to keep the bi-plane steady, the smallest movement could have spelled disaster at any moment.
A lot has changed in a century of skydiving, just ask this grandpa from Imperial with his impressive number of jumps.

'Well, just now, 7,341 but who's counting,' laughs Sanborn.

Roy Lorrella watched today`s jump with Sanborn`s great granddaughter Paige.  I caught up with him to see if he would be stepping into his step-father`s shoes and parachuting anytime soon.

'No he's the only one,' laughs Roy Lorrella.  'We prefer the landing on an airplane.'

Speaking of which, why does Sanborn jump out of perfectly good airplanes?

'Because I'm a commercial pilot and there's no such thing as a perfectly good airplane,' says Sanborn.  'Show me a perfectly good car in the parking lot.  You should do what you can do as long as you can do it without being a hazard to other people or yourself.  Take life as it comes and enjoy it.'

And if you find yourself free falling, remember to pull your ripcord.

Patrick Clark, News 11.

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