Brockton, Massachusetts – October 6, 1915
On the afternoon of October 6, 1915, two men, Emil Olsen, and Berton Eager, were scheduled to give performances at the Brockton Fair by jumping from a balloon using parachutes. Eager went first, rising to the appointed altitude and making a successful drop.
About an hour later it was Olsen’s turn. As an estimated crowd of 35,000 people looked on, Olsen rose from the fairgrounds after declaring that he was going to do his friend “one better”. His plan was to jump using four parachutes, only using one at a time.
After the balloon had risen to several thousand feet, Olsen made his jump. The first parachute opened perfectly, which he then dropped away from and opened the second, which also opened as it should. The third did likewise, but for some reason the fourth failed to open while Olsen was still about 5,000 feet in the air. At first the crowd though it was all part of the act, but after a few seconds realized something was wrong. Olsen plummeted to the ground and landed in an open area just outside the fairgrounds.
Mr. Olsen was 22-years-old, and lived at 244 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, Mass.
Source: Vermont Phoenix, “Killed At Brockton Fair”, October 8, 1915