Los Angeles has always been at the heart of American ballooning history. It also played host to the very first woman to parachute out of a hot air balloon on July 5th, 1888 despite the nagging controversy. Mrs. Van Tassel was a woman with a can-do attitude which never faltered despite the growing sentiment of people who were against the jump. She wasn’t your ordinary timid and soft wife that was the stereotypical hallmark of that era. After all, Mrs. Van Tassel was the wife of Parker Atkinson Van Tassel, a famous aeronaut/pilot. Interestingly, she parachuted out of her husband’s own balloon according to the Los Angeles Times.
Making history and creating controversy
At Los Angeles Balloon Rides women happen to be some of our most frequented clients. In modern day Los Angeles, you don’t think twice about a lady taking a hot air balloon ride or even deciding to parachute off the side. But in 1888 things were different. As the giant balloon to be piloted by Mr. Van Tassel was filled with gas, a huge crowd of people started to gather across Los Angeles to witness the jump. Hot air ballooning was a feat best reserved for experts, and there were so few balloons in the sky that watching one float hundreds of feet over the earth was a sight worth paying for!
Detective Tom McCarthy was ordered by the police chief at that time to prevent Mrs. Van Tassel from taking to the skies mainly because her death during a holiday would ruin everyone’s day. But when Mrs. Van Tassel heard about being grounded by the Chief, she and her husband decided to take to the heavens ASAP. Interestingly Detective McCarthy told Mrs. Van Tassel that women shouldn’t be in balloons in the first place because that type of amusement was best reserved for men.
Making haste, the Van Tassels leaped into the balloon at 10:47 am, and before everyone knew it far away from the reach of the police. It is said that the deputy county recorder D.E. Barclay barely got into the balloon. The couple also reportedly threw out all the trading cards which were printed by the Fedrickburg Brewing Company meant to advertise the upcoming jump by Mrs. Van Tassel. One theory was that the couple threw out the cards to speed up their ascent by reducing weight.
Ballooning a mile above Los Angeles
The balloon occupied by the trio was around a mile over the city when Mrs. Van Tassel decided to prepare for the jump. As cool as ice, the first woman to perhaps ride in a balloon and jump off it was said to be taking it in her stride. It was at that point that history was made. It took slightly over five minutes for Mrs. Van Tassel to descend 6000 feet during the jump. The feeling and the thoughts that went through her mind were probably what goes through the mind everyone who parachutes or even balloons for the first time. It is also an adrenaline rush, an addiction which has many people coming back for more regardless of age or gender.
Ease and safety of modern ballooning
Modern day ballooning is exponentially safer than it was in 1888. At Los Angeles Balloon Rides we have helped couples get married, propose and celebrate their anniversaries hundreds of feet above Los Angeles. Not only is ballooning safe today it is also for everyone regardless of age, gender or race. Thanks to experts like us you can be assured that your day in the air will be memorable!
Los Angeles Balloon Rides is one of the leading hot air balloon rides services in the state. We offer our clients a unique opportunity to see, feel and witness the city from the sky. Our excellent customer service team is always on standby ready to book your next balloon ride. So, call LA Balloon Rides at 323-406-8464 to book your date in the sky!
Photo of Mrs. Van Tassel’s balloon over Los Angeles is courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.