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Location:Northwest Paragliding Club Meeting
Edit: Addition from Joe Gluzinski
The Caterpillar Club was originated at Dayton, Ohio between October 20, 1922 and November 11, 1922 by Messrs Hutton, Verne Timmerman, J. Mumma and Milton H. St. Clair. This world-wide club is for aviators, military and commercial, who have saved their lives with a parachute in an emergency.
It all started with a young army test pilot named Harold Harris. On October 20, 1922 he was flying a Loening W-2A monoplane fighter in a mock dogfight with a friend. His plane had been equipped the day before with experimental aerodynamically balanced airlerons. After taking off from the test center at McCook field, Dayton near where the Wright brothers tested their plane, his plane suddenly rocked violently and Harris found he could not control it. He had to bail out.
Standing in the cockpit, he was sucked out by the slipstream. After three tries he found and pulled the rip cord. This main chute opened about 500 feet above the street of Dayton. Looking up he admired the beautiful silk from which the parachute was made and marveled at how white and clean it was. He was the first American known to be saved by a manually operated parachute in an emergency jump from a disabled aircraft.
Two reporters from the Dayton Herald, discussing the event, suggested that since there would be more jumps with the chute, a club should be formed to embrace these intrepid airmen. They considered several names for the organization and selected the Caterpillar Club. The reasoning was simple - the parachute main sail and shroud lines were woven from the finest silk. The lowly caterpillar worm spins a cocoon and crawls out and flies away from certain death.
Among the many Caterpillars who carry or carried Caterpillar Club membership cards are former President George Bush, General Doolittle, and Colonel Lindbergh, to name a few.
Ralph, Steve & Rich it seems like you are in very good company!
Little Silk Worm - a poem found in Leland Potter's POW journal
Little silk worm - so very small,
You saved me from an awful fall.
Tho you're such an ugly thing,
I owe my life to your man made wing.