We live in a beautiful era. Humankind has made incredible advancements in science, medicine, technology, and so many more areas that just generations ago were mere elements of imagination. Structures are built higher into the sky, improved transportation can carry people and goods almost anywhere and much faster than ever before, and we can connect with just about anyone in the world with the touch of a button or screen. Some of the more critical issues are still in progress, but we are slowly but surely making significant advancements when it comes to equal rights for all, and living in harmony with the environment that sustains us. It has most assuredly been a long and arduous road to reach the point that we have, but there has been a plethora of persistent pioneers along the way who have helped to pave the way.
One such pioneer lived during a time that you might not expect to hear of daring feats being attempted from high above the ground. In 1888, air travel was still quite experimental. The Wright brothers were perhaps just beginning to dream of a new flying machine, and hot air balloons were the main means of floating on air for our wingless species. And even by then, about 100 years after the first passenger flight in a hot air balloon, this type of flight was not completely reliable or predictable.
But no matter what slice of time during which humans roamed the earth that you investigate, you will find examples of the strong determination and curiosity that characterize the human spirit. This is the essence of development: constantly pushing boundaries and seeing limits as suggestions or even as challenges to overcome. Things were no different in 1888. On the Fourth of July that year, a woman known to the public simply as Mrs. Van Tassel shook the city of Los Angeles with her brazen behavior. Ascending into the sky by way of her husband’s hot air balloon, Mrs. Van Tassel earned the title of the first woman to parachute over Los Angeles. Some are certain she was the first woman to do so anywhere in the country, and perhaps the world.
It is worth mentioning as a reminder that this was a very different time. Flight was a daring deed that was associated with great risk and a multitude of accidents, crashes, and deaths. But on top of that, the late 1800s are not remembered as a time of equality for women. While the suffrage movement wheels may have been in motion, much of the societal mentality still saw women as the weaker, less capable sex. The unstoppable Mrs. Van Tassel was utterly unfazed by all of this. She was also completely undaunted by some of her previous experiences in the hot air balloon with her husband, which had not all gone according to plan. In fact at one point, their balloon had crashed into the home of a prominent city official, destroying the chimney in the process. But there was no stopping the fearless woman who was bent on breaking the molds that society had set forth. Facing harsh criticism and attempts by the community and local police to stop the stunt, Mrs. Van Tassel, accompanied by her husband and a local amateur balloonist, ascended to the sky before anyone could prevent the flight. Reports from the men in the gondola stated that she was completely cool and collected as she leapt from her husband’s hot air balloon that Independence Day morning.
There is plenty of mystery, intrigue, and even scandal surrounding Mrs. Van Tassel’s identity, but what is not ambiguous at all is that she succeeded in her sky exploit. She landed safely on the ground, earning her the title she sought. The now-mysterious Mrs. Van Tassel had become the queen pioneer of the Los Angeles sky.
Today, flight has become such a normal aspect of life, to the point that countless people follow in Mrs. Van Tassel’s footsteps, looking for the extreme thrill of hurtling through the air. Not everyone works up the courage to go skydiving, but just the idea of it always leaves an impression. Sky adventures today are much safer than they were during the time of the inspiring mystery woman of the air. But the rush and adventure that she experienced are still there, amongst the clouds, for anyone to sample.
Whether you are hoping to find a way to be a sky pioneer, you’re just chasing the adrenaline rush of the free fall, you are hoping to face a fear, or you’re just curious, the sky is waiting for you. Skydiving.com can get you airborne, and help you to discover what it is like to fly. You too can skydive over Los Angeles! Visit our website or call us at 1-800-617-7948 to find out how you can experience the sky like the great Mrs. Van Tassel did.