Walter autographed this photo to Leslie Irvin:
Our ?? Irvin
Always Our "Irving"
Walter E. Lees
  Walter wrote:
"This is THE parachute, not the ship."


  An unusual story in which a kindly fate played a hand is going the rounds among Dayton aviators.
     To prevent any embarrassment it might cause the actors in this near tragedy, names will be omitted.
     A civilian pilot who is also a reserve officer, requested the loan of a parachute of a high official of one of Dayton's governmental flying fields.
     He prefaced his request with the remark that he had a particularly dangerous piece of flying to do and just had a hunch that a parachute might come in handy.
     The official told him that although it was strictly against regulations to loan out equipment of this kind, he considered the fact that the applicant was a reserve officer and would forget regulations.
     Taking the parachute under his arm, the civilian pilot faded out of sight and memory of the flying official.
     Two days later, they met on the street. "You saved my life," the civilian flyer said, grasping the hand of the officer.
     "What's it all about?" he asked. Thereupon the pilot in mufti dress explained that on the particularly dangerous piece of flying it had happened. His ship went to pieces in the air. He leaped out and the loaned chute let him safely to earth.

This from a yellowed clipping without identification


  The Caterpillar Pin  

  Most of the members of the Royal Air Forces Escaping Society wear with pride the tiny gold Caterpillar Pin which is awarded by the Irvin Air Chute Company to anyone who saves his life by parachuting from a disabled or flaming aircraft. Each recipient of the Caterpillar Pin is living testimony to the life saving ability of the Irvin Type Air Chute.
     The Caterpillar is symbolic of the silk worm, which lets itself descend gently to earth from heights by spinning a silky thread upon which to hang. Parachutes in the early days were made from pure silk.
     About 1920, Leslie Irvin, a 24 years old stunt man from California, demonstrated the first "free drop" parachute. He had made the chute himself on a borrowed sewing machine. Flying safety experts were so impressed that the American Air Force and British R.A.F> promptly adopted the parachute as standard equipment. Irvin then opened factories in the USA and in England.
     The Irvin Company started the Caterpillar Club and the practice of awarding the gold Caterpillar Pin in 1922 because each life saved was the result of Leslie Irvin's invention, symbolizing Irwin's dedication to safety in the air.
     It is estimated that at least 100,000 persons have saved their lives by Irvin parachutes.

This from the home page of the
Royal Air Force Escaping Society

  Caterpillar Club, 1924  
  Caterpillar Club, 1924  
  This from an old brochure of the Irvin Air Chute Company  

One of the largest parachute manufacturers
in the world

  In 1919 Leslie Irvin made the first ever free fall parachute descent. What became known as the Irvin parachute gained rapid acceptance, and by the early 1930's was in service with some 40 air forces around the world. Then, as now, the Irvin name set the standard for innovation, reliability, and quality.
Used in over 100 countries, Irvin supplies and supports customers world-wide. Now one of the largest parachute manufacturers in the world, the company is owned by Hunting PLC.
This from the website of


In the winter of 1931, I went to Europe with G. E. Brodie, an executive of Packard. We went by train to New York, by ship to Bremershaven and by train thru Germany to Prague, Czechoslovakia. I contacted Walters & Company who had bought a Packard 980 diesel and installed it in a high wing monoplane. Korda, president of Walter Co., and Etena Compara, engineer, watched the plane and engine during the test. I took one ride with Korda and visited his home where I met his wife, mother, father and inlaws. We had hassenpfeffer for dinner. Later, I watched while the engine was torn down for inspection.
     .We continued to Milan, Italy, thru Austria, where they were to place the Packard Diesel on a test stand. The stand wasn't ready, so we went on to Zurick, Switzerland, then to Paris, France and finally to London, England.
     I spent Christmas with Les Irvin (Irvin Parachutes) and his wife in their home near London.

Gallery 6Back Home BackIrvin Lawsuit in France