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Medford Hosts Northwest’s First Woman Parachutist

In 1926, sixteen-year-old Dorothy Hester of Milwaukie, Ore., had never seen an airplane up close.  One time a hot-air balloon passed over her house and she yelled, “Gimme a ride!"  Learning paid rides were available at the nearby Portland airport, she saved her money and took a flight.  Loving it, she determined to become a pilot. 

She heard that an American Legion Convention in Medford was offering $100 to anyone interested in making an exhibition parachute jump.  Hester borrowed a parachute and caught a bus to Medford with her sister.

The convention’s last attraction for the day was Dorothy’s jump. The plane reached altitude and Dorothy made her way onto the wing and froze, as she put it, “scared spitless.”  The pilot circled while yelling, “Jump, jump!”  Finally, he walloped her hand with a fire extinguisher and she jumped.  Enjoying the freedom, she safely landed in an orchard and collected her $100.  Medford had the honor of hosting the first woman in the Pacific Northwest to make a parachute jump.

 By age 21, Dorothy, nicknamed “Princess Kick a Hole in the Sky,” had become a stunt pilot sensation, looping the loop at air shows across the United States.


Sources: Skinner, Carole. "Oregon's Aviation History." Oregon Pilots Association. Oregon Pilots Association, Web. 21 Aug. 2015. http://www.oregonpilot.org/propwash/2007Propwash/PropwashNovemberDecember07.pdf  ;  Skinner, Carol.  “Dorothy Hester.”  Oregon Aviation Historical Society 19.3 (2010), Web 21 Aug. 2015.  https://oregonaviation.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/2010_11.pdf

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.