Albert Berry Biography
The idea of parachutes had been around a long time, with the original credit going to either the Chinese or to Leonardo da Vinci, but the first man to ever jump out of an airplane with a parachute was U.S. Army Captain Albert Berry. He jumped from a biplane at about 1500 feet over Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, Missouri, on March 1, 1912. Though some people believe that a man named Grant Morton parachuted from a plane in 1911 off the coast of California, the skydiving community (and in 2003, the U.S. government's Centennial of Flight Commission) commonly gives credit for the first airplane jump to Albert Berry. Berry's pilot was Tony Jannus, a pioneering aviator who died in a crash in Russia in 1916.
The New York Times reported on March 2, 1912, the day after Berry's jump: "Albert Berry is 33 years old and was born in Philadelphia. He is the son of Capt. John Berry, a St. Louis balloonist. The younger Berry made his first parachute jump [from a balloon] when he was 16 years of age, and has continued the work since."