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July 22: Fearless Miss "Jimmie" Parker

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On this date in 1930, a Fargo woman successfully made a 2,400-foot parachute jump at Salt Lake, North Dakota, about 30 miles northeast of Napoleon. The feat seemed particularly daring, after news of nine fatal aviation accidents from across the nation occurring in a single day. There had also been a death weeks earlier when a professional parachute jumper in Chicago fell when helping rescue a woman dangling from a plane in a tangled parachute.

According to the Bismarck Tribune, Delia Parker, the fearless Fargo woman who made the jump at Salt Lake, was known as Miss "Jimmie" Parker. She held the honor of being the Northwest's only female parachute jumper. In light of the recent aviation tragedies, tensions may have been high as nearly 3,000 people gathered to watch Miss Parker’s dive through the clouds. The 23-year-old made the plunge from Williston pilot Ed Canfield’s Stinson Detroiter airplane.

Parker drifted about one mile before landing safely. A single ten-dollar bill attached to a miniature parachute was also dropped, landing three miles from its release point. In pursuit of the money, scavengers caused heavy damage to a rye field.

Delia Parker was originally from Ashland, Minnesota. She worked as a hotel waitress in Fargo, jumping from planes was a side job. It was the year before that she was first hired by the Fargo Airport to perform parachute stunts at events. That October she became the first parachute jumper to make a dive in Underwood, North Dakota, as part of an airplane exhibition. She jumped from 3,000 feet. That same month, she appeared at a Carnival in Montana, where she received 50 dollars to jump from 2,000 feet as the plane dropped goodies for the crowd.

In 1933, Parker performed at Excelsior Park near Minneapolis. Her main chute failed to open, and when her emergency chute finally deployed, it was too late to avoid a hard landing. The 26-year-old ended up in the hospital with a leg broken in two places.

Perhaps that’s why her job jumping from planes was short-lived. Nevertheless, her stunts had brought her to several states, where she solidified her legacy as a brave North Dakotan, undeterred by the dangers in those early years of sky diving.

Dakota Datebook by Shelby Kriewald

Sources:
October 17, 1929, Ward County Independent, p. 4.
October 18, 1929, Wolf Point Herald, pp. 1-2.
July 22, 1930, The Bismarck Tribune, p. 7.
July 7, 1930, The Bismarck Tribune, p. 1.
Year: 1930; Census Place: Fargo, Cass, North Dakota; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0031
June 11, 1931, Askov American, p. 6.
North Dakota Place Names, by Douglas Wick

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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