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Frank M. Derry ( Missoula 1940 )

posted: Jan 1, 2002

Frank Derry died August 2, 1968, in Kalispell, Montana, five days after his 64th birthday. He was a resident of Bigfork. In 1939 Frank, brothers Chet and Virgil, and Glenn Smith provided the professional expertise for the USFS experimental parachute project in Winthrop, Washington. All four were professional parachutists from the Los Angeles area. The USFS smokejumper program, born in 1940, was a result of the success of the 1939 experimental program. Frank is responsible for the development of the steerable parachute in 1942-43. The addition of "Derry slots" and guidelines allowed any standard flat parachute to be converted into one which fit the needs of a person parachuting into rugged terrain. Frank continued on with the smokejumper program until 1945.