ON THIS DATE in 1886, balloonist and parachutist Elizabeth “Dolly” Shepherd was born in Potters Bar, England. In 1904, the seventeen year old made her first parachute jump, dropping 2,000 feet from a trapeze bar suspended from a gas-filled balloon.
Shepherd had many close calls during her career, including a time when she jumped with another woman whose parachute malfunctioned. She managed to grab the second woman in midair and take her down with her, although the weight of two bodies made them both descend at a dangerous speed. They hit the ground hard and Shepherd was temporarily paralyzed. She made a full recovery and resumed parachuting.
At age eighty-three, Shepherd was still engaging in her sky-plunging passion.